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But my local NHS, who have performed exceptionally during this pandemic, are not overwhelmed. Yet Buckinghamshire has been placed in tier 2, having gone into lockdown in tier 1. It makes very little sense to my constituents that having endured the trauma of a second lockdown, they are put into a higher tier. This sort of thing is happening all over the country. 42 per cent of the country were living in a tier 1 area before lockdown, and now it’s just 1 per cent.
99 percent of the country will soon be living under tier 2 or 3, which bans households from mixing. This feels like an end to lockdown in name only.
Businesses are struggling, the hospitality sector without a proper December will be on its knees, and I worry about the continuing impact on other health conditions and people’s mental health.
Covid is a devastating disease. Of course it is. Our Government is right to take measured steps to stop its harmful effects.
But the Government is borrowing more than ever at the moment, and the OBR has told us this week that the UK economy will shrink by around 11 percent this year.
That would be the biggest fall in our standard of living for three hundred years.
This is a complex problem. Equally, if our economy falls off a cliff it will not only be so many livelihoods and businesses in ruin, but wealth won’t be generated that pays for our vital public services, like the NHS, which has helped get us through 2020.
I need to see a justification for why certain areas have been allocated the tiers they’re in.
70 of us wrote to the Prime Minister last weekend, saying that for us to continue supporting this tiered restrictions approach, we need to see a cost-benefit analysis by Government, so that we can be sure we are not causing more harm than good.
Lockdowns and restrictions are designed to prevent harm of one kind, but they also cause other harms and we must give equal regard to other lethal killers like cancer, dementia and heart disease, to people’s mental health, and to all the health implications of poverty and falling GDP.
We also need local decision making and proper consultation, not just Whitehall instructions.
The priority must be the restoration of freedom, whilst containing this virus in the places where the spread is genuinely high.
And we need a plan that makes sense to everyone, such as an end to the substantial meal rule, which bizarrely suggests steak and chips will keep the virus away, but a couple of post work pints with a mate won’t.
So I shall be looking very carefully at what is published by the Government in the morning. My overriding priority to ensure the safety of my constituents.
But that is a finely balanced judgment across all fronts and not at all reliant on the presumption that Covid-19 is our only challenge as a nation.
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