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Message from Deputy Chief Constable Serena Kennedy, Chair of the Merseyside Resilience Forum.

My name is Serena Kennedy, and I am Deputy Chief Constable of Merseyside Police and am chair of the Merseyside Resilience Forum. The Merseyside Resilience Forum (MRF) is a multi-agency partnership set up to prepare for and respond to any emergency in the county. Over the last year the MRF has been one of the key forums where local authorities, emergency services, government agencies and all other organisations have worked together on a regional basis to tackle to COVID-19 pandemic. This statement is to update you on the current situation as we move on with dealing with another period of national lockdown and look ahead to the continued vaccine roll-out.

It is increasingly clear that after close to a year of COVID-19 there is growing sense of fatigue with restrictions across many of parts of our communities. Local and national media continue to report how people are still congregating and trying to find ways around the rules, many underestimating the risks they face. However, we must make it clear that the risks remain high. The COVID-19 figures for Merseyside are stark: on December 29 the weekly admissions to hospitals for COVID-198 were 43 in Merseyside. Just two weeks later, by January 12, it had gone up to 178 – and our numbers remain worryingly high.

The steps we take now and in the coming weeks will be crucial in ensuring our region can emerge from the national lockdown at the earliest possible opportunity. The most important step we can all take is to carry on following the lockdown rules, which will remain in place for the foreseeable future. In England this means people must stay at home and only go out where absolutely necessary, such as to shop for basic necessities, or exercise once a day. Also, people are not allowed to leave home to meet people socially if they don’t live together or have a support bubble together. This is the only way we can reduce the rates of infection – the “R value” – and begin to see fewer people becoming ill with the virus.

Although the news of vaccine roll-outs is encouraging and going well, we must tackle the increasing risks created by people feeling they are out of harm’s reach – they are not. By working together we can better protect our communities, our families and ourselves and create a resilient position to emerge from the national lockdown.

Finally, thank you for all your hard work so far. Merseyside people have shown true community spirit and strength and we see examples of that every day. Despite this I know it is difficult and I can’t promise it will be any easier for a while yet, but all the effort and working together so far has truly paid dividends and we can be optimistic that by carrying on we can do the right thing for our communities and keep people safe and well.