Since the proposal to delay the date at which Stage 4 of the Government’s Roadmap out of Lockdown would be implemented by four weeks until 19th July 2021 was announced, I have looked carefully at the case for and against this change and have listened to representations from my constituents.
Throughout the pandemic I have had concerns about the impact on our businesses, particularly the impact on the hospitality, leisure and night-time economy which have been tremendously hard hit by the restrictions the Government has imposed since March 2020.
I have also seen how the Government’s very positive vaccination campaign has enabled those most at risk from this terrible virus to be protected. Now we have vaccinated the overwhelming majority of those most vulnerable and the vaccination programme is now inviting younger people to receive a jab. Furthermore, the evidence shows that these vaccinations are more effective than first thought, with far fewer serious cases and hospitalisations than otherwise would have been the case across all variants of the disease.
It was also a concern to me that an extension would set a precedent for a further extension beyond 19th July 2021, with even further negative consequences for businesses and individuals.
People have, in addition, modified their behaviours since the outbreak of the pandemic. Most of us take the risk of Covid infection seriously and have taken steps to minimise that risk, whilst working to return to normal life. I believe we can, and should, trust the public to behave responsibly as we lift restrictions.
A final reason came shortly before the vote when I received an email from one of my constituents. This email informed me that as a result of the delay to implementing Stage 4, the end of year celebrations for pupils in Rugby and Bulkington are likely to be cancelled. Young people have borne the brunt of many of the restrictions which we have put in place – through disruption to their education, the inability to meet with friends, cancellation of sporting events and celebrations of important milestones – such as finishing GCSEs or A-Levels and leaving secondary school.
I have therefore written directly to the Department for Education, Warwickshire County Council and Public Health England to raise my concerns over these measures and ask for this decision to be reversed. It seems deeply unfair and wrong to continue to impose these restrictions on our young people, our businesses and our families in light of the data presented by the Government.
I feel that the case has not been made sufficiently to justify extending current restrictions and I accordingly on Wednesday voted against delaying Stage 4 of the Roadmap until 19 July 2021, although of course this was passed with a majority in Parliament.