Lockdowns and Christmas restrictions

Thank you to all those who have contacted me regarding the new restrictions over Christmas and about lockdown restrictions in general. I know that the situation has evolved rapidly, and I thought it best to publish a statement on my thoughts.

First, I know that the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday came as disheartening news for many of us who have been looking forward to spending Christmas with our loved ones. Given what we know now, it is important to be realistic. As the Prime Minister said, we are sacrificing our chance to see loved ones this Christmas so we have a better chance of protecting their lives so we can see them at future Christmases.

We now know that coronavirus is spreading more rapidly in London, the South East and the East of England than would be expected given the restrictions which are already in place. It appears this spread is now being driven by the new variant of the virus. Please look at the first graph from Friday showing the huge increase in cases in December:

I appreciate that many of my constituents have raised concerns about the effectiveness of lockdowns in general, and I want to address these concerns as best as I can. When cases increase in such a way as this, we cannot allow our NHS to be overwhelmed. We must ensure that those who need medical help can access it. To this end, it would be entirely irresponsible to allow the virus spread through our communities unimpeded. Please see below the second image and graph showing a huge increase in hospital cases this month.

However, I can completely understand that lockdowns and other restrictions have caused enormous stress and disruption to people’s lives – with this Christmas being a prime example. As the situation evolves, we have done our best to ensure that people have the support they need. Please do look at my coronavirus page for the resources available to you. We have also tried to open up parts of the country where possible.

The tiered system means that places with a lower number of cases can open up industries and sectors where it is safe, whilst restrictions in places with higher cases will bring numbers down. I think this is the best approach, and this is how the government intends to move forward, unless the situation changes again.

This Christmas, and this year for that matter, won’t be as we had hoped and planned, but I will endeavour to keep you as informed as possible. These restrictions will not last forever, and the vaccine is a huge step in the right direction for the next year.

Please also rest assured that I have read the emails and comments from constituents who have raised concerns about the impact of lockdowns and restrictions. I will continue to take these into account going forward – and I want to thank those who have taken the time to share their views with me.