Partnership launched to strengthen Cheshire’s response to Covid-19 outbreaks

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Leaders from across Cheshire gathered virtually this week to establish a partnership to help combat the continuing threat from Covid-19.

All four council areas have formed a Outbreak Response Co-ordination Group which will work with the police, NHS, and business leaders.

The new group is made up of the Leaders of Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Halton Council, Warrington Borough Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner, and the Chair of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership.

Their work is supported by local public health teams and other key frontline staff from across the public services.

The group has been set up to ensure the whole county takes a unified approach to managing outbreaks by:

· providing collective political leadership in response to outbreaks within Cheshire
· ensuring Cheshire Police can respond to outbreaks consistently, in partnership with local authorities
· sharing information on local outbreaks and lockdowns, and reviewing the spread of Covid-19 across Cheshire
· learning from partners' experiences and sharing how best to respond to outbreaks
· protecting the local economy during an outbreak, in partnership with the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership
· supporting cooperation with Merseyside, North Wales, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.

Each council has published an outbreak management plan for their area, which sets out how they will work to prevent and manage local outbreaks of Covid-19, as they occur in their communities. Close collaboration across the county between local councils, businesses and Cheshire Police will also help to prevent and manage local lockdowns, protecting lives and livelihoods.

Councillor Louise Gittins, chair of the Cheshire Covid-19 Outbreak Response Co-ordination Group, said: "This virus does not recognise local authority boundaries. We have a great experience of collaboration between councils and other partners, which is now more important than ever before.

"We are meeting regularly to share information and learning. We will help each other tackle outbreaks as they occur, supporting all the organisations and communities working together to defeat this terrible virus. Our collective aspiration is to make Cheshire Covid free."

Clare Hayward MBE DL, Chair of Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership said: "The LEP has been working extensively with partners to ensure that our collective plans protect public health. It's a fine line we tread. We are helping businesses to re-open and employees to start the return to workplaces but we must ensure this is achieved safely so we can manage the virus in our region."

The Leaders called on national government to ensure better and more timely information to local public health teams, more local control over testing, clarity over local powers, and more funding for local organisations to support their response.

They also called on everyone to play their part in keeping themselves and their communities safe. Protect yourself and your family and friends by getting a coronavirus test if you have symptoms of a persistent cough, fever or loss of taste and smell by calling 119 or visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus. Protect your community by then self-isolating for 14 days if you have symptoms or if alerted to do so by a contact tracer.

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