Julian pushes Health Secretary on status of fast-vaccinating areas under lockdown exit plan
February 3, 2021
Yesterday, in the House of Commons, Julian asked Matt Hancock about the position of fast vaccinating areas like Yorkshire in the lockdown exit plan the government will outline in the week commencing 22nd February.
On Monday at a visit to a West Yorkshire vaccination site, Boris Johnson said the government were considering whether the whole country should safely ease restrictions at the right time together due to the way coronavirus is currently behaving, rather than return to a regional tiered systems of restrictions tailored to the virus level in each area.
Yorkshire has been very successful in rapidly rolling out the vaccine, already covering 1 in 5 adults and 97% of over-80s.
“Further to the Prime Minister’s suggestion yesterday in Batley that we may not see a return to different regional tiered restrictions due to the virus’s behaviour, how will the government avoid unfairly disadvantaging areas with low covid rates if they go ahead with this approach?
Or does the fantastic vaccination programme rollout mean that the whole country can make steady progress out of lockdown together now?”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock responded: “That is our goal, that the whole country can make steady progress together, and in fact, if you look at the case rates across the UK, they are more similar in all parts of the UK, than they have been for some time.
And of course, there were significant regional variations during the autumn, but that is much less widespread now, hence the comments that the Prime Minister made yesterday.”
Leaving the Commons, Julian said:
“Given York and Yorkshire’s rapid vaccine rollout, I thought it was important to follow up on the Prime Minister’s suggestion there is the option of the whole country going out of lockdown and down tiers at the same pace, so myself and other local decisionmakers can assess what is best for the city.
The lockdown exit roadmap is being published late this month so it can be based on sufficient data on how vaccination is driving down hospitalisation, and the effect of lockdown measures on infection. It is good the Prime Minister is open-minded if the available information suggests a national approach is best, but would be disappointing if York’s solid vaccination performance meant it was kept under restrictions as long as anywhere else.
On the other hand, we in York have to balance the apparent advantage of going back to lower tier restrictions if our virus and vaccination rate is encouraging, but could mean a cycle of going up and down the tiers over a longer period, with the risk of the virus being reintroduced by visitors, against the apparent disadvantage of staying locked into national measures for longer, even thought this could be better in the long-run if this period was short and sharp and prevented any further upsurge through comprehensive vaccination.
There is a judgement call to be made on whether national or regionalised covid measures are in the overall best interest of our city, and I will continue pressing for more detail on behalf of residents.”