People urged to wear masks as South West Covid cases rise

West of England Metro Mayor is urging people to wear masks in shops & on public transport. Credit: PA

West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris is urging people to wear masks in shops and on public transport.

It comes as Covid-19 cases across the South West have risen sharply.

From Monday Metro Mayor Norris is writing to thousands of public facing businesses with a poster to display in their windows urging customers to wear a face covering.

He is also taking out adverts in local papers and has written to the Secretary of State for Health calling for what he calls 'vital additional resources' for the West of England. 

Dan Norris said he wanted to give the local community the chance to be involved in the plans. Credit: ITV News

The Metro Mayor says the soaring levels of Covid-19 in the West of England are alarming. 

  • In Bath and North East Somerset: 1,075 per 100,000

  • In South Gloucestershire: 918 per 100,000

  • In Bristol: 761 per 100,000

This compares to a 484 per 100,000 England wide average. 

The Metro Mayor, along with public health professionals are putting the sharp rise in part down to errors made at a lab in Wolverhampton - meaning many people who may have had covid were told they didn't.Mr Norris said: “Through no fault of the NHS, local civic leadership, local businesses, or local people, infections continued to spread unchecked within our region. Now we face a hugely difficult situation.”

Given that the problem was caused nationally, Mr Norris believes the Government has a special obligation to the West of England. 

He has written to the Health Secretary to request additional assistance as well as renewing his call for Metro Mayor powers to make face coverings mandatory as is the case in some other parts of the country. 

Dan Norris said: “There is a looming crisis. The last thing I want to see is more death and heartbreak with patients queuing on trolleys as our precious NHS is brought to its knees. As the Metro Mayor, with responsibility for jobs, I am also deeply worried that the regional recovery is about to be undermined. The government should be intervening now and I will keep asking them to do so. But they currently seem overly fixated on sticking to their Plan A when Plan B is clearly necessary. 

While it is down to us, my message to everyone is very simple. The killer virus has not gone away. Flu season is approaching. I urge everyone who can to please wear a mask. Get vaccinated. Wash your hands. Doing this is the best possible gift we can give our NHS this Christmas.”