Liverpool City Region is “leading the way” after becoming one of two areas in England to have gone from Tier 3 to Tier 2.
Could this city region be a model for the rest of the country?
It entered the government’s highest level of COVID-19 restrictions on 14 October after local leaders – including mayor Steve Rotherham – came to an agreement with Westminster about funding and entering the toughest of measures affecting 1.5 million people.
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The government praised Liverpool for agreeing to it, but following the announcement from the health secretary, Matt Hancock, the area will move into Tier 2.
It is a significant boost for a city region which has witnessed its coronavirus infection rates spiral out of control.
Over the last couple of weeks, British soldiers were deployed to help with mass testing, which has seen more than 200,000 people tested for the virus in an effort to reduce cases.
The Department for Health and Social Care says the reasoning behind the decision to move Liverpool into Tier 2 is because there is “continued improvement across the Liverpool City Region”.
A spokesperson said: “Case rates, including for the over 60s, are decreasing rapidly with some notable improvements in Liverpool, Knowsley and Sefton.”
Cases there have fallen by 69% over the last six weeks and whilst rates within over 60s is still fairly high, there is relief in Liverpool and the surrounding areas that they can now have more relaxed measures.
Mr Rotherham said: “The Liverpool City Region’s move into Tier 2 is vindication of the hard work, dedication and sacrifice shown by people across our region for the past two months.
“These restrictions will still be tough for many local businesses and COVID remains a threat, so please stay safe.”
Local leaders faced some criticism at the time for backing the move into Tier 3, but now feel vindicated after the sharp decrease in cases across the region, leading to today’s decision.
Liverpool mayor, Joe Anderson said Tier 2 is “good news” for the city, but added that people “can’t afford to be complacent”.
He said: “COVID-19 rates are coming down and we are leading the way nationally, but they are still high compared to August, for example.
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“We must still look after each other and save lives.”
Neighbouring town Warrington is the only other area which has dropped down from Tier 3 to Tier 2.
The town, with a population of 210,000, entered Tier 3 on 27 October, just a week before the second national lockdown was implemented.