Harrogate MP says 'I share your disappointment' on Boris's roadmap delay over Covid restrictions

Harrogate's MP has backed Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to delay the roadmap out of the pandemic but says he shares everyone's disappointment.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 10:16 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 10:18 am
Harrogate MP Andrew Jones - "A delay is a regrettable but sensible, pragmatic response to the surge in new variant cases."
Harrogate MP Andrew Jones - "A delay is a regrettable but sensible, pragmatic response to the surge in new variant cases."

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones has told the Harrogate Advertiser, though patience is wearing thinner than previously during the pandemic, the decision to delay the fourth and final stage of the Government's roadmap is the "sensible" thing to do in the face of the virus.

After Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged the new July 19 target would be the "terminus date" for the remaining restrictions on social contact to be lifted in England, the Harrogate MP said the rising virus figures meant there had been no alternative.

Mr Jones said: “We have come so far so carefully so patiently but even so it is difficult to feel anything other than disappointment at the news that the current restrictions – with some exceptions – are to continue for another five weeks."

"But a delay, with daily reviews as new data is analysed, is a regrettable but sensible, pragmatic response to the surge in new variant cases.”

But the Harrogate MP also said previous progress in the roadmap earlier this year had already brought major dividends to people's daily lives and businesses.

Mr Jones said: "Already our towns look unrecognisable compared to how they were in January.

"People are in our shops, our bars and our restaurants. Hairdressers, beauticians and many other businesses are open that were closed back then.

“In the face of a new variant, unknown when the roadmap was set out, which is 60 per cent more infectious it is a remarkable achievement.

"And it is our pharmaceutical companies, our NHS and people turning up in huge numbers for vaccinations that have got us here.

A substantial minority of Tory MPs argue the vaccine rollout already means the relationship between cases and hospitalisations has changed.

They are expected to vote against the delay to the roadmap in the House of Commons when the subject is debated next week.

Their case was strengthened by comments today by Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), who said he believed that there was "promising evidence" that current coronavirus vaccines were starting to break the link between infection and actual serious illness.

Last week a senior NHS boss Chris Hopson, The NHS Providers chief executive, also said he believed the UK’s vaccination programme had broken the link between infections, hospital admissions and deaths, and that hospitals were reporting fewer and younger patients.

Despite this viewpoint - and warnings from the business world of the major negative economic impact of the Government's latest U-turn - Harrogate and Knaresborough's MP told the Harrogate Advertiser there was a battle which had to be won before the nation could resume normal life - and that people's lives were at stake.

Mr Jones said: “It has always been a race between the vaccine and the virus.

"It’s a race we are winning but the new variant means measures that gives us the edge on the virus need to continue.

"If they don’t it’s a race we could lose with the disease putting people into hospitals, killing thousands more before the vaccine has a chance to protect them and forcing us into another lockdown."

The PM confirmed last night that there would be a four-week delay to the lifting of all restrictions beyond June 21 because of the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the virus.

Boris Johnson said the delay was designed to allow more people to be vaccinated and receive second jab doses - with people aged 23 and 24 now being invited for a first jab.

Covid restrictions: What are the rules at the moment

At the moment, England remains in stage three of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown.

Although the last rules change on May 17 opened up indoor hospitality and household mixing, there are still limits in place.

Until we enter stage four, a maximum of six people or members of two different households can meet indoors, including in pubs and other hospitality settings.

Up to 30 people can meet outdoors.

In addition, social distancing rules remain (one-metre plus) and face masks must be worn indoors everywhere except at home or in the office, including in shops, bars, restaurants, public transport, indoor public venues and any arts venues such a cinemas which have been able to reopen

People are still being advised to work from home.

Nightclubs are closed, as are most theatres, and there are restrictions in place on large events such as festivals and sport, although a number of test events allowing larger crowds are allowed.

Finally, the traffic light system for international travel remains a blight on holidays abroad.

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