A maverick mayor has vowed to defy Boris Johnson’s new coronavirus clampdown as four new areas are hit with tougher rules.
Health secretary, Matt Hancock, begged residents in Liverpool city, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesborough not to mix with other households in a desperate bid to drive down the spreading virus.
Hancock warned against all but essential travel to drive down the second spike of COVID-19. The changes come into effect from tomorrow but one independent mayor has branded the measures “unacceptable.”
Andy Preston, the mayor of Middlesborough, said that the proposals from the government will “damage mental health.”
Preston said in a video posted to Twitter: “The government has just made an announcement about strict measures coming into Middlesbrough and Hartlepool.
“I think this measure has been introduced based on factual inaccuracies and a monstrous and frightening lack of communication and ignorance.
“I don’t accept the statement at all, I don’t accept the measures, we need to talk to government, they need to understand our local knowledge, expertise and ability to get things done and preserve jobs and wellbeing.
“We’re really disappointed. As things stand we defy the government and do not accept these measures.
“We need to get COVID-19 under control and we need to work with people to find a way of preserving jobs and mental health,” he said.
He told Sky News that the town “went to the government with fantastic, intelligent, pragmatic proposals” about how to stem coronavirus, but “weren’t listened to” and “what’s been put to us now is unacceptable.”
“Obviously, if there is a law then I will follow the law and nobody should break the law,” he said.
“But as things stand, I do not accept these proposals – they are unnecessary, they go too far, they’ll damage mental health and they’ll kill viable jobs.”
Preston added it was “madness and completely unnecessary” to stop people from different households having distanced meet-ups in COVID-secure cafes that would be “pushed out of business”, leading to job losses, under the government’s orders.
“We’re not soft on COVID here, we’re strong on COVID – but we need to find a way of living with it, working with it and saving jobs,” he said.
It comes after Boris Johnson warned that Brits must make sacrifices or they will face a second national lockdown.
The government “will not hesitate to take further measures” to curb the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted during a coronavirus briefing at Downing Street on Wednesday.
He called for “collective forbearance, common sense and willingness to make sacrifices” in the battle against coronavirus, warning that tougher measures could be introduced if the evidence shows they are needed.