The Prime Minister announced to the Press yesterday that the current level of coronavirus restrictions will remain in place for four more weeks, until 19th July. Unfortunately, in contravention of the Ministerial Code and to the frustration of the Speaker and many MPs trying to represent their constituents, he failed to come to the Commons first to be questioned by us. This is a failure which I have already picked up in my role as Shadow Leader of the House and will continue to.
The reality of the announcement is that most things will continue as they currently are, with a few changes, and that this situation is likely to continue until 19th July.
I know how worried many people in Bristol West are about the effect of this delay on you, your job, your business, your mental health. I deeply regret that the government has been too slow to act. This situation was entirely predictable, and predicted.
Despite warnings from Labour, SAGE and others, the government’s inept border policy allowed the Delta variant first found in India to spread across the UK. This is causing Covid cases to rise once again. I’m particularly worried about younger people who are not yet vaccinated and for those who still cannot access the support from the government they need to help them self-isolate.
I know that many of us are concerned about the potential impact of rates of Covid infection which are unfortunately rising once more. None of us wants restrictions to continue longer than necessary and neither do we want to go backwards. We also need to try to get most of the country double vaccinated – and prepare for boosters in the Autumn.
I’m also worried about businesses in Bristol West. Many constituents have been waiting anxiously for 21 June to open, or for service to pick up, including those in nightclubs, bars, restaurants, events companies, cinemas and theatres, to name a few. You’ve ordered food and drink, you’ve hired staff. I’ll be speaking in Parliament about this and will continue to advocate on your behalf and fight for the financial support you need from government.
Labour have argued for months that economic measures to support affected businesses must be paired with any government announcement about changes to the 21 June ‘unlocking date’ and I will use my time in Parliament to argue for a real plan to help businesses through the crisis and beyond, including debt restructuring and a jobs guarantee for young people.
As we go through the next four weeks I want to help you in any way that I can. If you think that I can represent you individually and take up some of the problems that you are facing, or if you want to tell me what is concerning you, please get in touch.
The government must now do everything it can to increase vaccinations, ensure test and trace is working effectively and crucially, providing people who need to isolate with the financial support they need. These steps will be essential to ensure the Delta variant is under control.
The way that we will all get out of this is by getting the vaccine and it’s the way to protect your friends and family. I’ve been working with local partners in the NHS and Public Health and will publicise pop-up vaccination opportunities – so please when you can, get your first and second dose.
Please take care, stay in touch and stay safe.