Statement ahead of Prime Minister’s COVID-19 Update
February 22, 2021
With the fantastic news that all adults should receive their first dose of a vaccine by the end of July, expectations for the Prime Minister’s long-awaited road map out of lockdown are high.
I remain committed to the belief that schools must return by March 8 for all students to mitigate the long-term effects of lockdown on our children’s education and development. While teachers have made tremendous efforts to support families with home schooling, nothing can replace classroom learning and daily in-person interaction with your peers. I am especially concerned about pupils who were already on the fringes of educational outcomes and risk being permanently left behind due to this period of school closures.
The other area I will be paying particular attention to will be proposed changes to restrictions affecting the hospitality sector, which is so important to York’s economy.
Once the top nine priority groups (which represent 99% of all coronavirus deaths and over 80% of hospitalisations) have been vaccinated, I want to see hospitality venues opened safely but with a real chance for financial viability. Responsible business owners have made significant investments to make their venues covid-secure, which resulted in the sector being linked to relatively few Test and Trace referrals. For this reason, I believe that by the Easter holidays we should see pubs, restaurants and cafes open with table service, mandatory check-in requirement and rule-of-six restrictions in place for an initial period. I am pleased to hear that excessive measures such as the substantial meal rule and the 10pm curfew are rumoured to have been dropped.
With the vaccination rollout going from strength to strength, now is the time to honour the sacrifices made throughout lockdown by families, school children, business owners and workers by providing a road map which allows us to return to normality once the top nine priority groups have been vaccinated.