WARRINGTON residents will feel aggrieved if tighter coronavirus restrictions need to stay in place longer than needed because of Government failures, says Labour MP Charlotte Nichols.

The politician, who holds the seat for Warrington North, has reacted to health secretary Matt Hancock’s announcement this morning, Thursday.

She said: “I welcome Hancock’s claim that he wants these to be in place for ‘as short a time as possible’.

“But in order to do so we need to significantly improve the operational capacity of ’Test and Trace’, including further increasing local testing capacity.

Warrington Guardian:

MP Charlotte Nichols

“People in Warrington have worked exceptionally hard to keep the spread of the virus down and we will feel aggrieved if these restrictions have to stay in place longer than necessary because of Government failures in London.

“The new restrictions mean that we will need an immediate and substantial package of financial support from the Government, which has not yet been forthcoming. I will continue to push for this to ensure our local economy is protected.”

Conservative Warrington South MP Andy Carter has issued a statement on the situation.

He said: “I very much hoped we could have avoided additional measures, we’ve seen in the last few days the start of a fall in daily infections locally however we’re still at a much higher level than public health officials would want and so I hope we can bring the outbreak under control more quickly and lift these restrictions as soon as possible.

“Much of what has been announced today was already guidance for people living in Warrington, the restrictions mean that from just after midnight on Saturday regulation will come into force preventing social mixing between different households in law in all settings except for outdoor public spaces or outside hospitality such as beer gardens.

“Guidance also includes not to attend professional or amateur sporting events as spectators, only to visit care homes in exceptional circumstances to try and reduce the risk of infection of those who are vulnerable and most at risk and a request to only travel for essential reasons, that means it’s ok to go to work, to school or to the shops.

Warrington Guardian:

MP Andy Carter

“I’m very pleased Government have increased availability of testing locally at my request, a new walk through test centre opened in Warrington town centre yesterday.

“I really don’t want to see further measures, an enforced period of lockdown, even for a short period would have significant economic implications and we need to find a balance between keeping people safe and protecting jobs and livelihoods.

“If you do have a positive test please self-isolate and if you’re contacted by test and trace it’s important you share the details of people who you’ve been in contact with so we can minimise future infections.”

Stephen Fitzsimons, interim chief executive of Warrington Chamber of Commerce, says the decision over tougher measures is ‘not unexpected’ but ‘very frustrating’.

“Local companies have worked tirelessly to keep themselves afloat during lockdown and it is a major blow to return to the restrictions of early summer,” he added.

Warrington Guardian:

Stephen Fitzsimons

“Businesses need clarity and an indication of when they can return to normal. So far we have only seen one location emerge from a lockdown.

“Government urgently needs to tell us what the longer-term plan is because this cannot continue.”

Cllr Bob Barr, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Warrington Borough Council, says the new Covid-19 restrictions applied to Warrington are disappointing, given that the ‘vast majority’ of residents have been trying hard to stay safe and keep others safe and well.

He said: “The Government’s lack of consultation with the council before announcing the new rules is most regrettable, as is the lack of clarity on exactly what the rules are. Judging by my email inbox there has been much confusion.

Warrington Guardian:

Cllr Bob Barr

“More worrying is the small minority who intentionally break the rules, abuse others who are abiding by them, or spread disinformation to try to persuade others to misbehave. They are even worse than those who are putting themselves and others at risk by simply being careless.

“In order to protect ourselves in Warrington we must all do our best to follow the guidelines and to take all necessary hygiene precautions that will reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.”

Warrington and Halton Green Party leader Lyndsay McAteer says public health ‘should always be the top priority’.

She added: “The Greens support the extra restrictions if the chief medical officers’ believe (in line with the evidence) that infection rates will be curbed as a result. We encourage everyone to play their part and abide by the new rules.

“However, we are concerned that there is not enough financial assistance to protect the livelihoods and wellbeing of people in our region.

Warrington Guardian:

Lyndsay McAteer

“There is no specific support for the hospitality sector; and a share of the £7 million aid package that will be made available will not even scratch the surface in terms of lost income and threats to employment.

“The Green Party support calls for a Universal Basic Income. This would provide income protection to all, which is particularly needed during the pandemic.

“Once again, we need to lay the blame for the crisis with the Conservative Government. At every step of the way, they have failed us.”