WARRINGTON Borough Council has begun talks with the government over moving the town into tier three coronavirus restrictions.

The council has reported ‘positive initial discussions’ with Westminster, which were initiated late last night.

Council sources say discussions were 'co-operative and positive'.

While Warrington is currently placed in the second of three tiers of Covid-19 measures, it could soon become classed as a very high risk area due to its ‘continued and stubbornly high’ rate of infections.

Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden said: “We have initiated talks with the government about Warrington’s local Covid alert level increasing to tier 3, working through the practicalities of what this could mean for our town.

“We have done all we can to provide support and guidance to our residents and businesses throughout the pandemic, but the evidence shows that despite our best efforts, cases of coronavirus in Warrington are not decreasing.

“I do have concerns about the impact on local businesses and jobs if Warrington goes into tier three, and I’m particularly worried for our hospitality sector and those whose businesses are connected to the industry.

“The discussions we have held with government so far, however, have been honest and realistic.

“If Warrington is to enter tier three restrictions, I will do all I can to ensure there is an acceptable level of financial support made available for our businesses and their staff.

“This is an absolute priority for me.

“We cannot ignore the stubbornly high case numbers of coronavirus in the town, with more people being admitted to hospital and distressingly more people being taken by the virus.

“I therefore appeal to our residents to keep doing your bit, follow the guidance and restrictions and continue to play your part in protecting yourselves and your loved ones.

“In the meantime I will continue to lead these proactive discussions with government to ensure that, if we do enter the very high risk category, Warrington secures the best possible support agreement.”

The council is now waiting for government to come back for further discussion which is expected to take place later this week.

Health secretary Matt Hancock, speaking in a Covid-19 debate in the House of Commons this afternoon, Thursday, also confirmed talks had started.

Warrington South MP Andy Carter said there was particular concern over the increase in infections of the over 60s.

He added: “I’ve held discussions with number 10 over the past few days to ensure that the right level of funding is agreed, as have local leaders and further calls this morning with Health Ministers.

"We are all united in wanting to bring infection rates down, we all have our own part to play in following the guidance. Warrington Hospital will shortly exceed the peak number of in patients from the first wave and as infection rates grow the number of key workers who have to self-isolate brings additional challenges to ensure the right level of care can continue.

Warrington Guardian:

“Public health officials have raised  particular concern around the significant increase in infections in the over 60s, with the rapid rise to 195 per 100,000 alongside a wider trend of infections impacting all age groups in Warrington there is an increasing likelihood that the town will move into the ‘Very High’ in the coming days.

Yesterday I raised in parliament the need to give more specific targeted support for businesses that are able to open but are operating under restrictions, I was pleased to see the Chancellor respond today in his announcements and introduce further grants for hospitality and leisure businesses”.