The regional leader faced some criticism after the government’s new coronavirus Tier 3 restrictions included the forced closure of all gyms in the region.
Gyms in the Liverpool City region could reopen in a few weeks unless the government provides evidence of their closure, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said today.
Mayor Rotheram also berated Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove, who said he “doesn’t know what he’s talking about”.
However, in his conversation with ECHO today, Mayor Rotheram reaffirmed that neither he nor any of the region’s leaders have requested the closure of sports facilities as part of the agreement, although this was again promoted on television this morning by Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove.
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The local anger was heightened when it became known that Lancashire’s Tier 3 package did not include the closure of gyms – without the government providing an explanation for the discrepancy.
In response to Mr Gove, who claimed on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme this morning that the leaders of the Liverpool City area had called for gym closures, the Mayor of the Metro added: “I met Michael Gove, if he told me his name was Michael Gove I would want to see his passport to prove it.
And he said that if the government did not provide evidence of why the closure of gyms would help the fight against the corona virus in the region, local leaders could take action.
The new restrictions are due to be reviewed one month after their introduction, Mayor Rotheram said: “Mayor Rotheram said: “I have now told them that if they cannot provide us with scientific evidence in the next three weeks, we will make a decision after the first review phase, and if they cannot provide the evidence, then it is at the discretion of the local authorities and we will decide whether to reopen the gyms.
“The problem is that when the government uses these separation and conquest tactics, the people who should know better believe it and then re-tweet it, and then you get this excitement and the train that others jump on.
“I think most reasonable people know that a number of restrictions were imposed on us, we were told that this would happen in Tier 3 – there was no legislation at the time.
“So Michael Gove has to take that back, he wasn’t at those talks, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about – I can confirm 100% that nobody here has asked for gyms to be closed.
“There is not the slightest chance that any of us ever asked or suggested that gyms should be part of the package, we were told that these were the restrictions for our area, no ifs, ands or buts, this is Tier 3.
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Mayor Rotheram also gave a glimmer of hope for the region and said that there could be better news at Christmas if everyone pulled together to reduce infection rates.
“So we could possibly have something closer to a normal Christmas if we lower these numbers, while other areas might move up to this higher level.
“The point is for everyone to pull together, show the solidarity for which we are famous and see if we can fulfill this very difficult request.
he said: “Here the people in our region can really help us. When we see that these numbers are declining significantly, we may be able to move up from level 3 to level 2 by Christmas. That is a big task, but that is the price.