ALL Mersey Tunnel Tolls will be suspended from tonight to help essential frontline key workers fighting the Coronavirus in the region do their jobs more easily.

The decision - announced by Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor - will come into effect from 8pm. 

The measure is designed to support people who have to travel for essential reasons and to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

A spokesperson for the combined authority said this afternoon that the tolls suspension will remain in place for as long as the current UK restrictions remain in place, which is expected to be three weeks but may be extended in line with any further Government announcements.

He continued: "Collecting the toll during this period is not considered an essential role to facilitate travel.

"The safety of our customers and staff must be our priority at this time.

"In line with national advice only key workers should be travelling at this time, and therefore using the Mersey Tunnels, and the Metro Mayor is telling people to stay at home."

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: "Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures – and that is why, following discussions with our six council leaders, I am today suspending all tolling on the Mersey Tunnels.

"This is absolutely the right thing to do for our key workers who have to travel and are working tirelessly in our communities day in and day out to provide crucial services to keep us all safe.

"In light of national advice there should only be key workers using our tunnels and by suspending the tolls we can actively support them in what are extremely challenging circumstances.

"Please stay at home and only leave the house if absolutely necessary.

"We must all do this if we are going to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus and ease the pressure on our NHS and other vital services. Our public services are doing their jobs, you need to do yours. Stay home, stay safe and save lives.”

Halton Council is also taking steps to remove tolls on Mersey Gateway, but to do so requires Government approval.

Cllr Rob Polhill, leader of Halton Council, said: "We have put a proposal into Government asking them to agree to remove tolls from Mersey Gateway, as we need Government consent to do this. We are currently waiting for their response.

"If Government agree our request Halton Council, in conjunction with the Department for Transport (DfT), will be suspending the requirement to pay road user charges (referred to as tolls) on Mersey Gateway with immediate effect and will also be kept under review in line with Government announcements.

"The Council would encourage those not engaged in key worker roles to comply with Government Guidance to stay at home, work remotely where ever possible and only make journeys that are necessary.

"For those in key worker roles, such as NHS workers, care workers and others (whether employed or volunteers) engaged in supporting vulnerable people and those most at risk from COVID 19, we want to make it easier and remove the added burden of worrying if they have paid their toll on time, so they can concentrate on helping us keep people safe."