I really hope that by the time you read this, the coronavirus infection rate across Cheshire has fallen to a level that means the two authorities are no longer on the government’s watch list.

That’s my hope, but if Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East follow the same trajectory of neighbouring areas, it seems somewhat unlikely with Halton, Warrington and Halton all under much tougher restrictions.

What has impressed me, however, is the willingness of the two local authorities to work in a coordinated fashion with a clear understanding that the geographical and social demographics mean the artificial border is nothing to a killer virus.

According to Local Democracy reporter Ethan Davies, CWAC’s leader, Cllr Louise Gittins, wrote to the government last week and asked for additional restrictions after the borough’s infection rate passed the 50 cases per 100,000 mark, which was the authority’s own ‘early warning’ point for when action needed to be taken.

Meanwhile Cheshire East’s infection rate was lower last week at 54.1 per 100,000 residents, up from 36.7 the previous week. Nevertheless, Cheshire East is also on the government’s watchlist.

According to CE council leader Sam Corcoran, this was ‘due to the increasing rate of infection in the borough, the increasing proportion of tests that are positive, and the restrictions that have been put in place in our neighbouring authorities’.

Cllr Corcoran also advised residents to act as if they were in a ‘local lockdown’ and ‘only go out when really necessary’.

This is a view I can heartily agree with. Regular readers of this column will be aware of my own personal stance on the pandemic. I consider myself to be more at risk from the infection and as a result, I have been ultra-cautious.

I consider myself fortunate to have been able to work from home since before the official lockdown came in. I haven’t had to use public transport, I haven’t had to work in a city centre office, no one other than my wife has been in my house since March and the only time I’ve set foot in another building was last week when I had my annual flu vaccination.

I also consider myself fortunate I’ve been able to use supermarket home delivery services so I’ve not had to go shopping.

The virus is a killer and it’s not going away any time soon until a vaccine is found so I consider it prudent to try to protect my health.

And that’s what I expect from those whose job it is. I have no objections to council leaders asking for additional restrictions. I don’t consider them to be an imposition on my personal liberty, I view them as civic leaders acting responsibly.

And yes, I am well aware that extra restrictions can and will have economic implications. Some of my colleagues have been made redundant as a direct result of the pandemic and there are probably many more on the way as the furlough scheme comes to an end.

But the stark reality is you cannot separate the country’s economic health from public health. They are two sides of the same coin.

Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at Edinburgh University, made the case when she said: “What I’m hearing from senior economists that I work with is that unless you solve your public health problem, you’re not going to solve your economic problems, and we still have a substantial public health problem and economic problem currently.”

But what, then, do we make of Crewe and Nantwich MP Dr Kieran Mullan?

In response to Cllr Corcoran’s plea to not go out unless really necessary, Tory MP Dr Mullan said it was ‘not the responsible way to go about these things’, and added: “It is not clear if this view has been agreed with the Director of Public Health or the outbreak board. It is not clear on what evidence he has asked people to do this. Cheshire East is not subject to intervention and as of last week it was not on the watch list suggesting it isn’t even among the 100 most concerning areas in the country.

“It is very important people follow the rules we have and be ready to follow stricter rules if they are deemed necessary. The situation can change quickly. I welcome anyone encouraging us to be careful and vigilant.

“But we are going to undermine our messages to the public if the council leader sees fit to go it alone and with very extreme messages. Timing is important in what we say to people. We need to see responsible leadership on such an important issue.”

Just out of interest, I did a little research on Dr Mullan and looked up his recent voting record.

The website TheyWorkForYou notes that on June 24, Dr Mullan voted against the weekly testing of NHS and social care staff during the Covid-19 pandemic, despite promising to ‘speak up for, and work for, staff’ at the NHS during the election victory speech he gave six months earlier. And in July, Dr Mullan voted against New Clause 17, which aimed to protect the NHS and publicly funded health and care services in other parts of the UK from any form of control from outside the UK in a future post-Brexit trade deal.

I’ll take no lectures from Dr Mullan and frankly, if forced to choose, I’d back Cllr Corcoran’s message over Dr Mullan’s any day of the week.