West Midlands mayor would ‘not stand in the way’ of tougher Covid restrictions

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has said he would “not stand in the way” of tougher Covid-19 restrictions but would demand economic support in advance.

As the region’s Labour police and crime commissioner, David Jamieson said he believed consideration of a future “circuit-breaker” lockdown was almost inevitable, the area’s Conservative mayor Mr Street said extra economic support should be “pre-ordained”.

Mr Street told a weekly West Midlands Combined Authority webinar meeting that he would liaise with other regional leaders if restrictions are tightened.

HEALTH Coronavirus
HEALTH Coronavirus

The former John Lewis managing director said: “If we suddenly found ourselves in a position where we needed to move into higher restrictions, firstly it wouldn’t just be me, I would want to do it with all of our local authority leaders and of course taking the wider leadership of the region with us.

“And if we are at that high level of infection, I think it is very important that we do not deny the health reality.

“We would need to move… and I would not want to stand in the way of tougher health restrictions.”

The additional Covid restrictions are going to impact heavily on many local businesses and jobs, especially those in the hospitality sector. I believe the Government should go further to help those businesses whose trade is being curtailed. pic.twitter.com/YzOP25QjXD

— Andy Street (@andy4wm) October 15, 2020

Mr Street added: “The last point I would make is I would want economic support in advance.

“I just do not believe that it is right that the negotiation is going on in the public way that it is.

“That should be a pre-ordained package and I hope that we would move to that.

“We should be clear on what our position should be, well before we get to that point.”

The leader of Birmingham City Council, Councillor Ian Ward, said he envisaged that the city’s Tier 2 status would be reviewed after 14 days.

A near-deserted Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham (Jacob King/PA)
A near-deserted Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham (Jacob King/PA)

Mr Ward said: “I would envisage that next week we will begin a dialogue with the Government based on the data here in the West Midlands and the position we find ourselves in.

“Whether the data is then telling us we should be moving up to Tier 3, or whether it will be better to have a circuit-breaker, I will wait until next week.

“But we’ll look very closely at the data because the health impact of the virus and keeping people safe, and avoiding any unnecessary deaths, has to be our number one priority.

“We’d also expect an economic support package to come in behind wherever we find ourselves after that 14-day review.

“I just don’t think we can carry on in a situation where there is no financial support for the hospitality sector here in the West Midlands under the current restrictions.”

Commenting on the possibility of a circuit-breaker, Mr Jamieson said: “If things don’t get substantially better, and we see things gradually getting worse from place to place… I think there is no question that what we need to jointly consider is whether we need a circuit-breaker and a total lockdown in the area to try and break the circuit.

“I think it’s almost inevitable eventually that at least we may have to consider that as an option.

“It was after all what the national scientists on Sage were saying and I think we’ve got to reflect on that.”