Julian welcomes Five-Point Plan for Living with Covid
July 5, 2021
With anticipation building for the proposed July 19 ‘Freedom Day’, the Prime Minister’s statement tonight offered an optimistic view of life as we move beyond the pandemic. The 5-Point Plan addressed the major questions regarding how we learn to live with Covid-19 and I believe families across York will appreciate this clarity.
Following success after success reaching milestones and hitting targets in our vaccine rollout, I welcome the decision to cut the interval between jabs from twelve to eight weeks to ensure all over eighteens are fully vaccinated by mid-September to allow focus to shift to delivering booster jabs for the most vulnerable. Data is clearly showing that the current third wave is much different to the first and second wave with a much-diminished relationship between the number of cases compared to hospitalisations as well as deaths, and this is down to the protection afforded by the vaccine. Speeding up the rollout of second jabs will sever this link completely as we reach peak immunity as a country.
Our incredible vaccine programme is allowing us to move away from restrictions that go against the grain of human behaviour with the 1m+ rule for social distancing set to be scrapped and limits on gatherings removed. This year has taken a toll on many people’s mental health, and I hope the resumption of normal interaction can begin the healing process as many begin to tend to personal scars from the pandemic.
For those fully vaccinated who have consequently had to isolate due to NHS Test and Trace, a move to new rules which may allow for daily testing as an alternative will provide relief and provide a tangible benefit for those who have had both jabs. Similarly, parents of children whose education has been continually disrupted due to classes having to isolate will be eager to learn how this issue will be resolved. I will be listening closely to the Secretary of State for Education’s statement tomorrow, but parents can be assured that I will keep up the pressure to see normal classroom learning resume for the new school year in September.
Once again, a plan to allow fully vaccinated travellers to return from amber list countries without the need for self-isolation was alluded to. I would have liked if the Prime Minister had taken the opportunity to provide further clarity for families wanting to go away with summer and travel businesses eager to scale up trade, but it was good to hear that the Secretary of State for Transport will be making a statement this week. Having this policy in place by July 19 is crucial so that hardworking families can enjoy a well-deserved summer break and the travel sector does not miss out on school holiday sales.
While the final decision on Step 4 of the Prime Minister’s road map will be made next week, I cautiously welcome today’s statement and hope it marks the beginning of the final chapter of the pandemic. If we do not open now, there will always be reasons why we should remain under restrictions, but it simply cannot go on. We need to learn to live with the virus and once we do it cannot hold us back any longer.