Coronavirus is now more rife in Bristol than Manchester, Marvin Rees has revealed.
As of 4pm on Wednesday, November 18, the city’s Covid-19 rate stood at 486 per 100,000 people, with the second lockdown still yet to make a dent on the number of cases.
That compares to an England average of 273.
In Manchester, which has been hard hit by the pandemic, the rate is now lower, at 387 per 100,000 population, while it is 294 in Liverpool, 365 in North Somerset and 343 in South Gloucestershire.
Speaking during a Facebook Live on Wednesday evening, Bristol mayor Rees said: “Certainly compared to our early numbers, that is high and it’s going to continue to rise until we feel the impact of the most recent lockdown.
“There is always a two to two-and-a-half-week lag between the lockdown and experiencing the benefits of that.
“You can see where we’ve got to as a city which is why it’s incredibly important for people to comply with the guidance and rules.
“If we comply, we will bring the incidence down and relax the restrictions sooner.”
He said the South West’s R rate was between 1.2 and 1.4, which means for every 10 people who have the virus, they pass it on to 12 or 14 people.
But he said Bristol, as the major city in the region, had a higher rate than that because of greater physical interaction and a denser population.
“It’s a challenge for us and we need to stay on the front foot, taking it on by ‘hands, face and space’,” the mayor said.
Rees voiced his frustration that the Government was still not telling cities how it would decide to place them into regional tiers once lockdown ends on December 2.
“We are asking for clarity from government on the exit strategy from lockdown,” he said.
“As yet we don’t have that clarity.”
Earlier this week it emerged that Bristol is at risk of entering the toughest local lockdown tier.
The Government wants to return to the pre-lockdown regional tiers system, and the city could be heading for tier 3, which Rees has said he wants to avoid.
During the Facebook Live, he said Bristol City Council would continue to press Whitehall for support for small businesses after receiving a pot of money to keep them afloat.
“The problem is that the Government has said ‘we will give you the money now but it needs to last you from now into the next financial year’,” the mayor said.
“Our point to government is we can’t leave the money until the next financial year because there won’t be anyone to support in the next financial year unless we spend the money now.
“We need to frontload the investment to support those businesses and then get more money from government when we need it in the new financial year.
“We are doing all we can to support small business but are not getting the level of certainty from the Government that we would like.”
Adam Postans is a local democracy reporter for Bristol
Main photo by Martin Booth