THE leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council believes the proposed tier two lockdown restrictions in the borough are a "necessary step" to tackle the rising number of coronavirus cases.

Cllr Louise Gittins says she supports the new regulations with a "heavy heart" but believes it's the best course of action to protect local communities and ease the burden on the NHS, care settings and schools.

The council wrote to the Government on September 30 to express concern about the current infection rate in the borough, and to request stricter measures and a support package for residents and businesses to curb the spread of the virus.

The weekly infection rate for Cheshire West and Chester up to October 9 is 167.3 (574 cases) per 100,000.

Cllr Gittins said: "With a heavy heart, I support these regulations as a necessary step to keep the rate of infections under control, protect the health of our communities and help take the pressure off our schools, NHS, care settings and key workers.

"However, the new restrictions have been imposed without any further clarity on the funding and powers that we requested to support our response.

"We cannot allow this to be a stepping stone to even more restrictions. To turn this around we will continue to make the case for further financial support and more responsibility for local testing, contact tracing, enforcement and support to our businesses.

"We expect these restrictions to be in place for the foreseeable future, or until the infection rate reduces, and we will keep residents and local businesses informed about any further changes in the future."

Ian Ashworth, Director of Public Health for Cheshire West, added: "We recognise that residents have come a long way since March. Many have adapted to a new way of life and are following the public health guidelines.

"This new ruling preventing household mixing is necessary to reduce the spread of the virus and we encourage everyone to play their part for their community by remaining in their own household and support bubble.

"We would like to remind everyone to continue to wash their hands, cover their faces, keep their physical distance from people who aren’t in their household. Call 119 or use the national portal or if you have symptoms to get tested."