Birmingham City Council leader calls for national lockdown

The leader of Birmingham City Council has called for a full and urgent lockdown because of climbing coronavirus cases.

Cllr Ian Ward said a planned move to the Tier 3 rating for Birmingham and the six other metropolitan districts of the West Midlands would not work and instead backed calls for a full, four-week lockdown across England.

He added that, by doing so now, it would be possible to ease restrictions before Christmas, whereas delays would lead to avoidable deaths and prolonged economic misery.

He said: “Things have moved on rapidly now – we have 272 cases per 100,000 people and among over 60s we have a case rate of 199 cases per 100,000.

“I am now very, very concerned about what I am seeing. A move to Tier 3 is I believe inevitable but the problem is the tier system is just not working.

“Places like Blackburn with Darwen and Oldham are already in Tier 3 and cases keep rising at a higher rate than here, where we are in Tier 2.”

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In Birmingham, cases have gone up by 21 per cent in the past week – yet in higher tier Blackburn it has gone up 39 per cent and in Oldham by 50 per cent which supported Cllr Ward’s claim the tier system was not working.

“Hospital cases are rising and the hospitals are coming under increasing pressure as we move into winter which is a challenging time for the NHS,” he added.

“I am of the opinion that England needs to follow France, Germany and Wales into a national circuit breaker as quickly as possible.

“We must not repeat the mistake of last March in not moving sooner. We need a break of four weeks.

“I am not suggesting the Government imposes this and then just crosses its fingers. It will be an opportunity to put things right and buy us valuable time.”

Cllr Ward added he had hoped to talk to the Government this week but that the opportunity for dialogue “has disappeared”.

Discussions were meant to take place to review the success or otherwise of Tier 2 restrictions but the Government was not available to do so.

Businesses, and particularly those in the hospitality sector, would be hit hard with tighter restrictions or even closures forced upon them if the city and wider West Midlands moves into Tier 3

Mayor Andy Street said he agreed that further action was needed to “turn this tide” but fell short of agreeing to the need for a national lockdown.

He said: “I am very clear we cannot stand still with our restrictions. We will need to move to further restrictions – but what that will mean is not yet agreed.”

BusinessLive – West Midlands

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