Parliamentary approval of new lockdown regulations
January 6, 2021
I reluctantly supported the imposition of renewed lockdown measures in the House of Commons this evening, on the basis that the enormous spike in infections driven by the more contagious new variant of the virus leaves us with no alternative.
Our local case rate has spiralled from 65 per 100,000 just before Christmas to approaching 500 per 100,000 now, and I have been convinced that immediate tough action is essential to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed, while we continue to rollout the vaccine to the most vulnerable. I take heart from the fact 1.3 million people have already been vaccinated, more than the rest of Europe combined, as fast progress on this is our route away from the grim cycle of restrictions and lockdown.
I am disappointed that the powers voted through today allow for lockdown restrictions to remain in post theoretically until 31st March, as I believe MPs need guaranteed regular votes on whether to extend. I will therefore hold the government to account against the commitments I have received from the Prime Minister and Ministers that they want the country out of lockdown and areas back into tiers that reflect their local virus positions as soon as it is safe to do so, which is predicted to be during February. I note tier positions legally have to be reviewed every fortnight, so once the present virus surge is over, areas like York can expect to see restrictions relax as our virus rate falls.
I will also continue to push for clear government commitments on the point in the vaccine rollout when enough vulnerable people have been immunised to allow for the lifting of restrictions. Having pressed Ministers via a parliamentary question to utilise pharmacies for vaccination, I welcome their clarification this will happen.