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Region’s MPs divided on ‘guarantee’ Norfolk will exit lockdown in tier one

PUBLISHED: 18:41 03 November 2020 | UPDATED: 18:41 03 November 2020

Jerome Mayhew, MP for Broadland. Picture: Danielle Booden

Jerome Mayhew, MP for Broadland. Picture: Danielle Booden

Danielle Booden

Norfolk’s exit from fresh national lockdown into the lowest levels of virus restrictions is both “fully expected” and “impossible to guarantee”, say the region’s MPs - depending on who you ask.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous. Picture: UK ParliamentWaveney MP Peter Aldous. Picture: UK Parliament

Conservatives across the county have voiced concern at “alarm bells” ringing within the region’s health service, following prime minister Boris Johnson’s decision to place England into a month-long lockdown from Thursday.

The North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker said hospital admissions data showed the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital saw a tenfold rise during October, with England’s Covid cases doubling fortnightly which Conservative Mr Baker said proved lockdown was “unfortunately necessary”.

But views are split as to the exit strategy for the East of England, which, for the majority of the area, currently resides in tier one - the lowest level of the country’s coronavirus restrictions.

READ MORE: ‘Norfolk paying price for the North’: why MP won’t back lockdown without exit plan

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker  Picture: SuppliedNorth Norfolk MP Duncan Baker Picture: Supplied

Jerome Mayhew, Conservative MP for Broadland, said: “Given that, if parliament votes for a lockdown on Wednesday, we will be entering this from a position of tier one, it would be extraordinary if the impact shifts us into a higher risk category at its end.

I fully expect Norfolk to return to tier one on December 2 as the lockdown period comes to an end.

“The best way to ensure this is, however reluctantly, to follow the rules to minimise social contact during November. We all make mistakes, including me, but this is the best way to support an early end to the lockdown, both in Norfolk and nationally.”

But some were less confident about the region’s prospects, with Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman describing the path back to tier one as “the wish, definitely - but impossible to guarantee”.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Pic: Yui Mok/PA ImagesNorwich South MP Clive Lewis. Pic: Yui Mok/PA Images

READ MORE: Norfolk can ‘earn its way’ into looser restrictions after lockdown for ‘good behaviour’

While the Waveney MP Peter Aldous added: “The situation is changing day-to-day. Some alarm bells are ringing and there are particular local challenges with hospitals beginning to be overloaded, the accelerating rate of infections, and these outbreaks in the meatpacking plants.

“We are now going into national lockdown and the R rate in our area has gone up significantly.”

The Conservative MP added: “We are in completely uncharted waters. It is the government’s intention we return to the tier system on December 2 and I very much hope we will enter back into tier one. If we abide by the provisions of the lockdown there is every possibility but I can’t guarantee it.”

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: ArchantMid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Archant

And Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis stressed that any exit from lockdown must be “based on the science”, and added: “Labour wants the whole country’s R rate to be below one before lockdown ends. The government’s back of a fag packet response so far doesn’t fill me with confidence.”

“It’s not possible to protect jobs and the economy if we’re not suppressing the virus - we’ve got to do both.

“The goverment should be doing a much better job of mitigating the effects.

READ MORE: Death toll in winter could be twice as high as in first wave of coronavirus, PM to warn


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