COUNCIL leaders have invited the Government to talk on what a deal over any move to tier 3 would look like in Warrington.

For now the borough is in tier 2 of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, with household mixing banned indoors and hospitality venues having to close at 10pm.

But with infection rates remaining over 700 a week for the past seven days in the town, there is determination at Warrington Town Hall to make sure any move to stricter rules happens on their terms - without being imposed by the Government.

That means having the right amount of funding and a say on which businesses would close.

Tier three rules would see tighter rules brought in such as closing pubs that don't serve substantial meals, a tightening of the ban on households mixing outdoors and advice against non-essential travel.

Council chief executive Steven Broomhead said the council has contacted the Government to look at what any deal would include.

He added: "We are trying to have a conversation now so the package we get is right for Warrington.

"For jobs, for business, for testing, for the costs of Covid. And for the exemptions, to make sure they are the right ones.

"We have also had a conversation with Public Health England to make the sure the data is right."

The Liverpool City Region, including Halton and St Helens, is already in tier 3 and Manchester will join from Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed this evening.

It leaves Warrington as an island in the lower restrictions, with infection rates far closer to Halton and Wigan than neighbouring authorities in the south such as Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East.

More than 100 people are now in Warrington Hospital with Covid-19 with patients approaching the peak of mid-April.

READ > One more patient dies in Warrington Hospital with coronavirus

There is no timescale as yet for when talks would take place or when any move into tier 3 would happen. Warrington is keen to keep businesses such as leisure centres and gyms open.

Warrington Guardian: Cllr Russ Bowden has a challenging task on his hands

Council leader Russ Bowden said it was important they found a deal that was right for Warrington.

He added: "I have said throughout this situation, right from the first set of restrictions four weeks ago, that we are not part of the Liverpool City Region. We are not part of a homogenised mass.

"The biggest thing for me therefore, is what support our businesses will have. Small businesses will go to the wall unless you provide them with proper support. And the job support scheme is not as generous as what was offered in March.

"The economy is a strong element of Warrington. We want to do what we can to support that.

"I have sympathy with what Andy Burnham (mayor of Manchester) said as in March, London led the way to a national lockdown with high rates.

"Now the north west has high rates, but it is dealt with regionally."

He said while new infections remain high in Warrington, it was right to start the conversation.

"What are the parameters for a tier 3 scenario in Warrington? If tier 3 is right, then let's at least get the right support," he said.

"We are not saying we want to be moved but if it is the right thing to control our infection rates, then we want to make sure the best possible package of support is available."

The council is also seeking clarity on how an area moves out of greater restrictions. The legislation says restrictions will be scrutinised after four weeks but it is unclear how that would work.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the highest tier of restrictions will be imposed on Manchester on Friday after a breakdown in talks - a scenario Warrington is keen to avoid.

Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols said: “The collapse of talks with local leaders in Greater Manchester is a sign of Government failure.

"The Conservatives have been treating the North West and its leaders with contempt, and the fact they were not willing to provide a sufficient financial support package to Greater Manchester- at least in line with what has been required elsewhere including the Liverpool City Region- before imposing Tier 3 is both a disgrace and unfortunately a sign of things to come for us if the transmission rate in Warrington does not show rapid signs of improvement.

"I understand what has happened today will cause real anxiety locally but I will do all I can as your MP to fight for jobs and livelihoods, and to ensure we can recover from this period of turmoil.”

Warrington Guardian: Matt Hancock

Mr Hancock told the Commons on Monday evening that action was needed ‘in places like Warrington where the number of cases is going up’.

He added “The critical thing though is for us all to recognise that in places like Warrington and the surrounding area, where the number of cases is going up —and the number of cases among the over 60s is going up, which is particularly worrying — we do need to act, and to act together if at all possible.”

He also said discussions over extra restrictions were also taking place with key figures in the north west, south and west Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.