Liverpool is thought to be days away from becoming the first city in England to face a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown as coronavirus cases spiral.
City Mayor Joe Anderson said it was ‘only a matter of time’ before comprehensive lockdown measures are introduced, such as closing pubs and restaurants for a fortnight.
He met with government officials to discuss a short shutdown after cases in Liverpool more than doubled with 1,306 recorded in the last seven days, up from 577 in the previous week.
Mr Anderson, who has also backed calls for a total alcohol sales ban after 9pm, said the circuit-breaker lockdown could help restore ‘some normality’ in the run up to Christmas.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, he said: ‘For me, it is only a matter of time because the virus isn’t able to be controlled in the city with the restrictions we have now.
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‘We need a circuit breaker or stricter lockdown to try to stop the virus spreading.
‘If we can have the severest measures of lockdown now, we may arrest the increase and start to bring it down by the end of October, so that in the lead up to Christmas we can get some normality.’
Government sources told The Telegraph that they were keeping a ‘close eye’ on Liverpool’s coronavirus figures, which they described as a ‘concern’.
Mr Anderson also said he backed a 9pm curfew on alcohol sales in shops and off-licenses to prevent huge crowds packing streets and houses after pubs close.
The idea has been proposed by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham who said the Government’s 10pm pub curfew is ‘doing more harm than good’.
The Liverpool mayor said he would ‘welcome’ such a move as it could stop spontaneous gatherings but that ‘a much bigger strategic solution’ was needed to bring virus cases down.
Merseyside is already subject to extra lockdown measures, which include a ban on households meeting each other at home or in private gardens.
It has also been reported that officials are considering whether to impose restrictions similar to those in the north-east, where it is illegal to meet friends and family outside of your household in any indoor setting.
Liverpool and neighbouring Knowsley have some of the highest infection rates in the country.
Knowsley Council leader Graham Morgan said a two-week mini lockdown ‘might disrupt the spread of the virus’ to help regain control.
This comes after reports that vast swathes of northern England and possibly London could be placed into an ’emergency social lockdown’ if infection rates continue to rise.
Measures could include shutting pubs and restaurants and a ban on households mixing. A senior Number 10 source told The Times: ‘Tougher measures on social interaction will have to come though. They’re inevitable in some parts if you look at the numbers.’
Boris Johnson is set to make a statement later today as infection rates and hospital admissions rise across the country.
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