Since the PM's announcement, I have received many emails and phone calls from residents about these measures, and my mailbag is always firmly split between people who support the restrictions, and those wanting fewer restrictions. There is never a good time to disrupt people’s lives, and tougher national measures cannot be entered into lightly. The last thing I came into politics for, was to put restrictions on how people can live their lives. I had hoped we could avoid a national lockdown, by managing the situation via the tiers, and allow as many people to lead as normal a life as possible. That’s because a national lockdown is not cost-free – not only in terms of jobs, businesses, and livelihoods, but also the impact on mental health and loneliness. This is why I know the Prime Minister has been so determined to try and avoid another national lockdown.
The Prime Minister has always said he would not hesitate to take further measures, and the latest data demonstrates that now is the right time to take more action to reduce transmission and save lives. Over the last seven days, the NHS has seen nearly 2,800 new coronavirus admissions, the equivalent of five whole hospitals full of covid patients within one week. If the NHS has too many covid patients, it won’t be able to treat winter emergency patients in the way they need, slowing down work to recover the backlog of care that built up during the first wave of the pandemic.
I want to reassure everyone that these measures will be time-limited, starting on Thursday 5th November and will be reviewed after the 2nd December. The intention then is that we will go back into the tiered system on a local and regional basis according to the latest data and trends. Any further national restrictions will need to be voted on after the end of these four weeks, and I would need to be given compelling evidence if it were to come to Parliament again.
I hope people will understand and appreciate the reasons why I have supported this difficult decision in order to safeguard our health service. After listening carefully to local NHS leaders and close friends who work on the NHS frontline, I am worried that our local hospitals could be overwhelmed without these measures. Those people who suffer from heart attacks and strokes and who require cancer treatment would not get the treatment that they need and deserve. We cannot allow that to happen.
Going forward, the roll-out of rapid tests, progress on a vaccine and improved treatments, should allow us to regain control of the virus, reduce deaths and alleviate the need to reintroduce measures of this severity again.
I appreciate that these stricter measures impact on all our way of life, but if we all play our part, we should see much of the restrictions removed in 4 weeks.
Please click here for all the information on the new national restrictions, including what they mean for working from home and business closures, why they are being introduced and the financial support available.