LIVERPOOL City Region's metro mayor has urged Boris Johnson not to return the country to a "failed" tier system when lockdown ends.

The Prime Minister is expected to announce a timetable for easing restrictions next week.

In a letter, Metro mayor Steve Rotheram urged him "not to throw away all of the progress made by peoples' sacrifice and hard work during the latest lockdown and vaccine rollout".

Citing the festive period, when the region was in tier two and "an island amongst an ocean of higher risk areas," Mr Rotheram warned that a return to such a patchwork set of restrictions risked a return to confusion over restrictions that went before.

Over the New Year, after the region moved back into in tier three case figures shot up.

Many pointed to the influx of outside visitors into the region as a factor in that increase.

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Although rates have been falling in St Helens during the lockdown and the vaccination programme is making rapid progress, infection rates locally are among the highest in the country.

St Helens Star:

Steve Rotheram, metro mayor of Liverpool City Region

In his letter, Mayor Rotheram warned: "The tier system was supposed to provide consistency and clarity on the restrictions imposed by government.

"But in practice the system helped to create chaos and confusion and undermine local efforts to tackle the virus.

"Our hard work meant that we were able to maintain our lower tier status in both the pre-and post-Christmas periods, while neighbouring areas found themselves placed into higher tiers. This resulted in a number of unforeseen problems.

"Our region became an island amongst an ocean of higher risk areas.

"People in neighbouring communities, understandably frustrated by having their freedoms curtailed began to travel into our city region to enjoy the food, nightlife and culture that we are famous for.

"My office received countless complaints from members of the public and business owners alike, all concerned about the influx of people from higher risk areas.

"We were unfortunately powerless to do anything about it and I think it is no coincidence that our case rates and hospitalisations skyrocketed, with the likelihood that some of the exponential increases may have been caused through migration between the tier system.

"As we move towards the easing of this latest set of restrictions, I implore you to review the evidence of the challenges encountered and re-examine the merits of the tier system.

"Too much hard work has gone into the vaccine roll-out and too much sacrifice made by people throughout this lockdown for us to throw all of that progress away, with what many experts suggest is a blunt instrument, that brings with it its own set of challenges."