Omicron covid regulations vote
November 30, 2021
This afternoon I voted in favour of the government’s regulations for the temporary return of mask requirements for shops and public transport, but against the imposition of a 10 day self-isolation requirement, regardless of vaccination status, for close contacts of suspected omicron cases.
I think it is sensible to take targeted steps against omicron until we know more about how dangerous it is, but am very wary of returning to measures that damage the economy and hand extreme powers to the government for a lengthy duration.
I supported again mandating masks because this power seems sensible and proportionate, crucially because it will be reviewed in 3 weeks’ time. I expect the government to stick to this, and will be on watch for any attempts to impose rules by decree over the Christmas period when Parliament is not sitting. I am also sympathetic to the idea of Parliament being recalled close to Christmas if this is necessary to ensure proper scrutiny of covid powers.
I was one of 36 MPs who voted against the omicron self-isolation requirement, because this gave the government power to keep this in force until March. An enormous infringement of individual liberty of this kind would have been acceptable only if it was much more time-limited, and subject to review in something like 3 weeks, like the mask rule. I am very concerned about getting into a cycle of scaring the public and spooking business confidence, so could not vote for a rule with a duration of this kind.
I will continue to work on behalf of York residents to try and ensure the government strikes the right balance in tackling the latest variant, and will watch carefully to prevent creep towards lockdown-style regulations. Booster vaccines, not yet more draconian rules, will see off omicron, and we have to learn to live with the virus, not live in fear.