Harrogate MP's views on Boris's new road map to end of lockdown within six months

Harrogate's MP has welcomed what he described as the Prime Minister's "cautious" path to ending lockdown in England by early summer.

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 4:19 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd February 2021, 4:22 pm
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones said he was eager for a speedy return to full normality - but only if the virus data said it was safe to do so.

After Boris Johnson announced a four stage plan to end all restrictions by June 21 this year if the data for infection rates and vaccinations allows it, Andrew Jones MP said: "“The Prime Minister has announced a cautious, staged approach to re-instating our normal lives and I think this is the correct approach.

"I know there are some who think the vaccination is an instant ‘get out of jail free’ card but there are two very good reasons why I don’t believe that is the case.

"Firstly, we know that the vaccine gives good protection against catching and transmitting COVID-19 and its currently known variants. However, we do not know that it will give the same protection against future variants.

"The more quickly the virus spreads, the more quickly it could evolve. And, whilst the vaccines and their roll out have been brilliant, they do not give absolute immunity.

"Therefore, re-opening in a phased way that allows more people to be given the vaccine – and more people to be given both doses – seems prudent.

"Secondly, if we re-open too quickly and we see infections, deaths and hospital admissions rise then it means we will have to reimpose restrictions again to protect the NHS and save lives.

"It will mean routine operations are cancelled again, increased mental illness, more uncertainty for business and all those other negative things we have unfortunately come to know in lockdowns over the past year."

The Government's phased approach to lifting Covid restrictions means there will be no curfew under step two of the relaxing of England's lockdown restrictions and there will be no requirement for alcohol to be accompanied by a "substantial meal".

The key dates announced for lifting lockdown are:

March 8: All schools will open with outdoor after-school sports and activities allowed. Recreation in a public space - such as a park - will be allowed between two people, meaning they would be allowed to sit down for a coffee, drink or picnic.

March 29: Outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed. It is understood this will include gatherings in private gardens.

Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis or basketball courts will reopen and organised adult and children's sport, such as grassroots football, will also return.

People will once again be able to travel out of their areas - although guidance will likely still recommend staying local, and overnight stays will not be permitted.

April 12: Major parts of the economy permitted to reopen including hairdressers.

May 17: "Rule of six" abolished for outdoor gatherings, replaced with a limit of 30 people:

Two households can mix indoors - with the rule of six applied in hospitality settings like pubs

Cinemas, hotels, performances and sporting events reopen - though social distancing remains

Up to 10,000 spectators can attend the very largest outdoor seated venues like football stadiums

Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions, funerals and wakes.

June 21: All legal limits on social contact removed, with the final closed sectors of the economy reopened - such as nightclubs.

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones said he was eager for a speedy return to full normality and, if the science allowed it, he would support the programme being speeded up.

Mr Jones said: "If things go well we can always pick up the pace. It is easier and safer to speed things up given the benefit of evidence over time than to veer from freedoms to lockdown every few months.

"Like everyone else I am eager to see family and friends in person again, to go to the pub, to have a meal, to shop, to resume talks in schools, to meet constituents in the same room, to work actually in my place of work and much more.

"But when I am allowed to do those things I don’t want them snatched away from me ever again. And that is a sentiment echoed by the many thousands of constituents who have contacted me during the pandemic.

"We need our freedoms back forever and back safely. That is why I think a more cautious approach is the correct one.”

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