Posted: 13.01.21 at 20:20 by Tom Avery
The leader of Cheshire East Council has joined his counterparts across the county in calling on the government to clear up the “ambiguity” that surrounds the Coronavirus restrictions.
In an open letter to the secretary of state for health, Matt Hancock and the secretary of state for local government, Robert Jenrick, the council leaders said the “liberal interpretation” of the lockdown meant more people are out of their homes compared to last spring.
The letter read: “The clarity of the ‘stay at home’ message is undermined by ambiguity between regulations and guidelines; making public compliance more difficult to secure and creating challenges for our enforcement authorities.”
They called on the government to “tighten” the restrictions in areas such as mask wearing in public and around how far people can travel to exercise.
Speaking on BBC North West Today, Cllr Corcoran said the ‘stay local’ guidance was “not consistent” with the legislation and he referenced Boris Johnson’s bike ride in the Olympic Park, seven miles from Downing Street.
The “rapid escalation between tiers” Cheshire experienced over the Christmas period was also criticised by the council leaders in the letter.
“Nothing would be more destabilising to business than more uncertainty about the regulations they will face. We support retaining lockdown until we see a sustained period of reduced infection, the immediate pressures on our hospitals have been resolved, and the vaccine has protected those who are at highest risk of hospital admission and serious illness,” the leaders wrote.
The letter has also asked ministers to give local authorities more “local discretion” in the rollout of the vaccine, arguing they would be better able to target specific communities.
Cllr Corcoran told the BBC: “One thing we did have concerns about was the government setting up the mass vaccination centres and encouraging some very elderly people to travel up to Manchester from Cheshire to get the vaccination. That causes problems.
“We do need better coordination from the government to local councils and the local NHS to manage the vaccination program, but I would praise the local NHS in rolling out the vaccine. It seems to be going quite smoothly in Cheshire East.”
When asked whether the target of getting the top priority groups vaccinated by mid-February would be met locally, Cllr Corcoran described it as “ambitious but achievable”.