Statement on New National Lockdown Measures
January 4, 2021
After the challenges and hardships of the last year, it is very disappointing to be re-entering lockdown and experiencing the sacrifices associated with it. However, with York’s escalating case rate it was inevitable that further measures would be needed locally to suppress the virus.
I am particularly concerned regarding the return to virtual distanced learning for the first spring half term for all but the children of key workers. Closing schools disproportionately affects primary school children going through the key development stages as well as those from the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds. Working parents will also be confronted with stark choices when trying to balance childcare and their jobs.
It is only right that those frontline workers within the NHS and the most vulnerable are prioritised for receiving vaccinations but if uplifting capacity allows for the inclusion of teachers in the priority vaccination programme then I will making the case to allow the return of regular teaching as soon as it is safely possible. I will also be reviewing plans for this summer’s exams to avoid a repeat of last year’s A Level fiasco.
With two vaccines now approved, a return to normality is more tangible than it has ever been in the past nine months. Therefore, the resumption of shielding for a matter of weeks while the prioritised vulnerable are vaccinated is sensible and a move I welcome. I also hope the return of the explicit ‘stay at home’ message clears up any previous ambiguity and I expect all employers to make accommodations to allow workers to work from home wherever possible.
After touching upon a clear line in the sand in my reflections for the new year, it is encouraging to see the Government commit to vaccinating 13.2 million frontline health and social care workers as well as the most vulnerable. I will be closely monitoring vaccine progress, both within York as well as nationally, and will push the Government to regularly publish vaccination data as they do testing figures to ensure the public have the information to hold them to account.
The Government still needs to offer more clarity though, with a clear exit strategy from current measures as well as a set timeframe for parliamentary reviews of restrictions.
I know this latest news will be another blow for York residents, especially those who work in our city’s hugely important hospitality and tourism sectors, but with an effective vaccination programme underway the end is clearer than it ever has been before. Our Yorkshire grit is being tested a further time, but I am confident we will once again overcome the challenges we are facing ready to open up for a summer of success and rejuvenation.