Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, we are now entering another national lockdown.
This pandemic continues to be one of the hardest challenges we have all faced. I very much understand the ramifications that lockdowns have mentally, physically, socially and economically on all of my constituents and it gets considerably harder to ask for more sacrifices from you all each time. As much as I hate restricting anybody from the freedom to enjoy their lives as they choose, the reality is that we are now facing a significant threat due to the spread of a new variant of this virus, which is between 50% and 70% more contagious. I am also deeply concerned by the conversations I have been having with our NHS workers across the country, who have never seen hospitals filling up at such an alarming speed. This is a reality that I simply cannot ignore.
Therefore, we must once again stay home. Exceptions to this are to shop for basic necessities, attend work or charitable/voluntary services where it is not possible to do so from home, exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person once per day and within your local area, meet with your support or childcare bubble where it is necessary to do so, to seek medical assistance or avoid illness, injury or risk of harm (including domestic abuse) or to attend education or childcare for those who are eligible.
Colleges, primary schools and secondary schools will close until the February half-term except for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children. All other children will learn remotely. Higher education will remain online until mid-February for all except future critical worker courses. Early years settings remain open.
Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to once again shield, and to only go outside for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential and should not be attending work.
While this is going to be a very challenging time, there is certainly hope ahead with the vaccination rollout picking up pace and I do very much feel that this is almost over. It is, however, necessary to take this step now not only to reduce the spread of the virus and protect the lives of thousands across the nation, but to ensure that our health service is not overwhelmed at such an important time.
There are no words for how grateful to all of my constituents for everything you continue to sacrifice during this pandemic. I do hope that, while we are undoubtedly entering a difficult period, that the vital difference of two approved vaccinations and many more being developed can provide some light at the end of the tunnel and hope on the horizon for you all.
Further information is linked below: