MP criticises government for ‘boom and bust’ approach to lockdown
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk and Waveney’s only opposition MP says the government must ditch its “boom and bust” approach and get ahead of the coronavirus crisis.
Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, was speaking after England was once again plunged into a national lockdown.
The population has been told to stay at home from Thursday, November 5, until December 2, and to only go out for essential reasons in a bid to control the spread of Covid-19.
But Mr Lewis, his constituency’s parliamentary representative since 2015, has slammed the government’s decision to ignore scientific advice in September.
Sage, the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, recommended six weeks ago to implement an immediate two-week ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown.
“There are still a lot of backseat drivers talking about the power of hindsight,” said Mr Lewis. “But the fact is, Sage was quite clear with its advice in September, and even before that saying we were coming out of lockdown too early.
“I understand the science is not definitive but it has been pretty consistent. There is a broad consensus that the government needs to do more, and do it faster.
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“These decisions are once again going to result in more deaths than are necessary. The trouble is we are behind the curve when we need to be in front.
“This whole boom and bust approach to the crisis has to end and we need to get ahead.”
At a Downing Street press briefing on Saturday night, prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed pubs, restaurants and non-essential retailers would have to close.
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Entertainment and leisure venues must also shut, but early-year settings, schools and universities can remain open.
For four weeks, different households will not be allowed to mix inside homes, expect for childcare purposes and other forms of support.
Following the lockdown, during which the furlough will be available to businesses, areas will return to being governed by the current three-tier system.
MORE: ‘Stay at home’ - Boris Johnson’s lockdown speech in fullWhere Mr Lewis and many Conservative MPs are aligned is their desire for increased decision-making at a regional level.
George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, plans to vote in favour of a national lockdown on the proviso local leaders and health teams can have more of an influence.
He added: “Having read all the briefings, and listened to local councillors and constituents, I will support the prime minister and his cabinet on this lockdown.
“But I will only do that on the basis of a clear plan and strategy from December for clear, stronger local powers for mayors, cities and county and district councils to balance the health and economic risks.”
His Conservative colleague Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, believes a lockdown is the “right thing”, but emphasised the need for a comprehensive financial support package for busineses.
“This announcement I took on board with a heavy heart but I fear - due to feedback I am getting locally and the data provided at the press conference - our hospitals are beginning to be overwhelmed,” said Mr Aldous.
“A month or so ago, there was a very clear view that the tiered approach was right for us and we needed to give it a chance so we didn’t close down our economy again. Unfortunately, it simply has not worked.
“I will be supporting the prime minister but I think, over the next two or three days, we need more clarity and more of sector-specific approach.
“There was talk of extension of the furlough scheme and grants, but there are sectors such as hospitality and leisure which have really taken the brunt of this.”
MORE: The list of businesses which will be forced to closed under new lockdownHowever, speaking prior to the official announcement, North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker said on Saturday there was “no justification” for locking down constituencies with low infection rates - such as his own.
He argued restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus should not be “blanketed”.
“We have continued in north Norfolk to have one of the lowest infection rates in the whole country and that remains so,” he added.
“I cannot think of any justification to my constituents of a further national lockdown when we are managing incredibly well through local measures to control outbreaks.
“A further lockdown for my constituency is not warranted or wanted in the vast majority of correspondence I receive. It will have significant adverse impacts on mental health, excess deaths and livelihoods.”