The Metro Mayor for Liverpool City Region says that residents should blame the government for pubs and gyms closing, as Wirral prepares to enter a 'tier 3' lockdown.

But Steve Rotheram also warned that "doing nothing is not an option" because "people are dying".

The six council leaders of the boroughs that make up the combined authority joined Mr Rotheram for an online press conference this afternoon that tried to explain the rationale behind the new measures that will come in place.

A series of charts were used to illustrate the infection rate curve across Merseyside and how that was now putting huge pressure on hospitals throughout the region.

Liverpool now has the highest rate of hospitalisation due to Covid-19 in the country.

But Mr Rotheram insisted that Liverpool City Region leaders had absolutely no say over the decision to place the area into the 'very high' alert bracket, saying the decision was "the government's and the government's alone".

Wirral Globe: New Wirral Council Leader Jan Williamson was on the online press conferenceNew Wirral Council Leader Jan Williamson was on the online press conference

Residents in Wirral have questioned why the borough has been placed under the same restrictions as Liverpool and Knowsley, when the current weekly infection rate is much lower.

Leader of Wirral Council, Jan Williamson tried to address this by saying: "We are geographically in this city region and that is how we are going to tackle it.

"I am disappointed that gyms and pubs have closed and we will help to get them back open as soon as possible."

Mr Rotherham has received fierce criticism for what has been perceived by some to be 'cosying up to the government' after Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked him for his co-operation in parliament. But the Metro Mayor said: "Our region was heading for tier 3 with or without us. We did not want the decision to be made without fighting for funding."

The government has committed to boosting £14million into the region's track and trace infrastructure and another £40million to support affected businesses, but council leaders agreed with Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson that the latter did not go far enough.

Mr Anderson said that the programme coming in to replace Rishi Sunak's furlough scheme would push some workers under the minimum wage and could have legal implications.

Mr Rotheram concluded the meeting by taking a snipe at his detractors, saying: "Perhaps those nay-sayers can tell us what they would do? Doing nothing is not an option. People are dying.

"This second wave of coronavirus must not become a Tsunami."

It is hoped that in four weeks time some of the restrictions could be rescinded.

A document of Frequently Ask Questions (FAQs) surrounding the tier 3 lockdown restrictions is expected to be published by the combined authority shortly.