Kerry McCarthy Labour MP for Bristol East
As you will have seen by now, last night Boris Johnson announced another national lockdown. The new strict lockdown is similar to what was imposed from March last year, with people not permitted to leave the home without a specified reason and schools closed to all but the children of key workers and those children classed as vulnerable. You can read all the guidance here – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home.
The UK is now regularly seeing in excess of 50,000 new Covid-19 cases a day. Bristol’s rate of 266 new cases per 100,000 is not amongst the highest but is still very high. A more infectious strain of the virus has emerged which is now present across all of the UK. Without action, hospitals will be overwhelmed in the coming weeks by the number of people requiring treatment. This would mean anyone who requires emergency treatment, for Covid-19 or any other reason, might not be able to get it – leading to deaths and severe health implications that would otherwise be avoided. The Tier System was failing to control the virus even in areas under the most stringent of restrictions.
I do appreciate this will be devastating for many people, particularly after year we have all had to endure. Please do not suffer in silence; there is support available for anyone who needs it. Contacts for the mental health charities are copied below.
I think we have no other choice than acting now to curtail the spread of this virus. Labour Leader Keir Starmer has confirmed we will support the lockdown in Parliament tomorrow. It is essential everyone follows the law, stays home and save lives.
I am deeply angry that the Government has allowed us to reach this point. Even before Christmas, it was clear further action would be needed to reduce the spread of the virus, and SAGE recommended the closure of schools on 22nd of December. Rather than take action before it was too late, yet again the Prime Minister chose to dither and delay and has now been forced to impose a series of more stringent restrictions for a longer period than might otherwise have been necessary. This indecision has characterised the Government’s response to the pandemic.
The way out of this mess now is through the roll-out of the mass vaccine programme. The Government has promised to vaccinate the top four priority groups by mid-February, around 13 million people in total. These groups account for a majority of hospital admissions and up to 90% of all Covid-19 deaths, so vaccines do offer a real light at the end of the tunnel. I joined a Zoom with Health Minister Nadim Zahawi last night about the roll-out and will be pressing the Government to ensure it keeps its word, and that my constituents who are entitled to a vaccine get one soon. I would encourage anyone offered a vaccine to please ensure you take it as soon as possible, to protect yourself and others. Once the priority groups have been vaccinated, the Minister said the Government would then start to consider priority occupations, including teachers, who would be “right at the top of the list”.
I will be following this up with another post about the economic support the Government is making available later today.
If you’re stuggling mentally, you’re not alone. Here are some numbers if you need support:
Samaritans: 116 123
Give Us A Shout: 85258 (text)
Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774
The CALM zone: 0800 58 58 58