This evening the Prime Minister has announced that England will enter a new national lockdown from midnight tomorrow.
I completely support this decision.
In recent weeks we are all too aware in Hastings and Rother that our infection rates have been soaring to levels no one could have predicted before the new strain of the virus came along. This in turn has had a major impact on our local hospital and health care system. The pressures being experienced by our frontline NHS and care workers is immense, and it is for them and the patients who are severely suffering from this virus that we must act.
The announcement today means that until the middle of February we are back in a national lockdown akin to March and April last year. The measures will be including (and will be legally enforceable):
- All schools to offer remote learning until mid-February and no more face-to-face learning, except for early years settings, vulnerable children and children of key workers.
- All non-essential retail to remain closed, and you must work from home unless your it is impossible for you not to.
- You can only leave your household for either shopping for essentials, a medical appointment, exercise, if you’re part of a support bubble, or if you are seeking refuge from domestic abuse.
- Outdoor sporting venues to close including tennis courts and golf courses.
- Places of worship can remain open.
I know these measures are tough, particularly on those who are alone, vulnerable and for local businesses. However, with the end in sight with the vaccines now being rolled out, we cannot allow ourselves to let up on controlling the virus and allowing the NHS to be overwhelmed, as they almost are.
I will now lobby the Government for the financial support that businesses and employees (including the self-employed) will need of the coming six weeks. We need a financial package that will match the level of lockdown we are experiencing again.
The vaccine is now being delivered, and contrary to what some people are saying, local residents in Hastings and Rother are receiving the vaccines already. There is still a long way to go and we have many months ahead before the vaccines have been rolled out across the population, but we are beginning on that final journey at last.
We have come so far, and we are tantalizingly close to overcoming this dreadful virus, let’s not chuck it all away now. Together we can do this and come out of this pandemic stronger, safer and more united than before. However, for now we need to follow the rules and remember the basics – hands, face, space.