Devon MPs have their say on Lockdown 3

“The Government has spent billions of pounds on its failed track and trace system and an app that has never worked – it needs to be investing similar sums in a 24 hour 7 day a week vaccination programme – which is the quickest and only guaranteed way out of this crisis.” (Ben Bradshaw MP)

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com 

Devon MPs have reluctantly agreed that a third national lockdown is necessary and have called on residents to their bit to win the fight against Covid-19.

England has entered lockdown 3, with the measures set to be approved in Parliament tomorrow, with the restrictions likely to last for at least six weeks.

People will have to stay at home and only to leave their house for essential reasons, including shopping, working (if not possible to work from home), exercise, and medical assistance.

Primary and secondary schools and colleges are to move to remote learning, except for children who are vulnerable or whose parents are key workers, and people identified as being clinically extremely vulnerable must begin shielding.

MPs have said they will be voting for the measures, except for Anne Marie Morris, who said that it will do more harm than good and a national lockdown is not the right solution because the virus is not impacting everywhere equally.

Ms Morris, who has been sceptical of previous lockdowns and who voted against the second lockdown, said: “Devon has been both luckier and better prepared than most to deal with the unpredictable impact of Covid. Indeed Devon is taking urgent cases from elsewhere that are not coping. That is the strength – and the duty – of a national NHS. The facts are the virus is not impacting everywhere equally.I do not therefore believe a national lockdown is the right solution for the following reasons.

“Clearly we must all take personal responsibility for limiting transmission. And the vast majority of us do. Tiering guidance was helpful. But a national lockdown won’t make bad people good. Our police forces are not equipped to enforce all these new- and confusing rules- across the whole country.

“We should not underestimate the huge steps made to deal with this virus in healthcare terms – including medicines and new vaccines. But it will still spread.

“So we need to get to grips with the urgent priority of properly resourcing our hospitals with the doctors and nurses needed and the oxygen supply in high demand. There are medically qualified people coming forward but not getting to the front line because of bureaucracy and red tape- cut it. The Nightingales have the oxygen and the delivery system – let’s use it not keep them in mothballs.”

She added: “Every action has consequences- some unintended and some unknown. This new lockdown will have as the last ones did very serious non-covid health consequences. It’s not just missed hospital appointments for those with other urgent and acute conditions, it’s the unseen mental health consequences which are just as life threatening as Covid. Mental health problems in the young have doubled.

“The economy and the state of the nation’s health are inextricably linked. It’s easy to say health matters more than the economy- of course it does -but a poor economy will drive up ill health. Depression is sky rocketing. Mental health support isn’t there in the quantity needed- and that will have consequences.

“With so little analysis and so little data across all these issues the government has made a decision to impose lockdown. I cannot support it. I very much fear it will do more harm than good.”

But the rest of the cohort of representatives have indicated that they will be supporting the lockdown, however difficult that the decision is and despite the impact it will have on our lives, but have demanded that the rollout of the vaccine is sped up.

Simon Jupp, MP for East Devon, said; “Although the restrictions on our everyday lives are difficult to accept, they are in place to protect us, our loved ones and the NHS. I’d like to thank everyone involved in the rollout of the two vaccines, which has already resulted in thousands of people in East Devon receiving their first dose. We have a duty to protect lives and livelihoods, and the multi-billion-pound package of measures announced today will support hospitality and small businesses through this difficult period.”

Sir Gary Streeter, MP for South West Devon, said: “Of course, I will be voting for it as the new variant is threatening to overwhelm the defences we had very carefully put in place. It is vital that we ensure that the NHS is not overwhelmed. The good news is that by the end of February most of the vulnerable people in our country should be vaccinated and during March we can expect some return to near normality.”

Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said: “I will be voting for the new measures. The new strains are highly transmissible and spreading very seriously across the country. We need to stop the transmission and protect those most vulnerable to the disease until vaccination. The furlough scheme has been extended, new business grants are available and we need to do everything it takes now to support people in staying at home and saving lives.”

Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon, said: “It is very disappointing that 2021 has to start with another national lockdown, but the situation with the new variant, and pressure on much of the NHS, unfortunately in my mind makes this a necessary step.

“The vaccination programme will rollout alongside this lockdown, which I hope will give us all hope that this will be the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.”

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MP for Central Devon Mel Stride said: “This latest lockdown is sadly necessary. We now need to see the vaccine distributed as quickly as possible.”

Kevin Foster, MP for Torbay, said: “As the Prime Minister outlined, our nation faces a significant danger and we cannot pretend there is an easy alternative to the work which must be done to meet it, especially given the pressure on our NHS today and what it is expected to face over the coming weeks. We must therefore unite to face this threat.

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our local health and care teams, plus the commitment of the whole community to do their bit, our bay has thankfully not faced the impact other areas have had, but it is all too predictable what would happen if the virus did hit our bay hard. Therefore whilst this evening’s announcement is not what anyone wants, it is what is needed.

“While in these dark winter nights we face a darker threat from the pandemic, we can all see the ray of hope offered by the vaccination programme and the promise it brings of ultimate victory.”

Ben Bradshaw, the Labour MP for Exeter, said: “This will come as a bitter blow, but is clearly essential to save lives and prevent the NHS being overwhelmed. We are paying a very high price for Boris Johnson’s dither and delay. We went into the autumn lock down too late, came out too early and the chaotic relaxations over Christmas have created a perfect storm.

“Mr Johnson & his Ministers must urgently now deliver a support package to affected businesses and for individuals being forced to self-isolate. The vaccination programme is also proceeding too slowly.

“The Government has spent billions of pounds on its failed track and trace system and an app that has never worked – it needs to be investing similar sums in a 24 hour 7 day a week vaccination programme – which is the quickest and only guaranteed way out of this crisis.”

Anthony Mangnall, MP for Totnes had previously said that he would not vote for any further lockdown, but that the speed and scale of the rise in cases, hospitalisations and deaths meant that he reluctantly had to change his mind.

He said: “The numbers are that much higher and in a short period of time they have jumped up, so you have got to move with where the numbers are. It has to be the last one now that we have the vaccine as the cost is crippling, but it is important that we get this right and we are able to say to people it is the last mile in the marathon, while it is frustrating and difficult, the finish line is there and we are going to cross it and we are going to cross it together

“But we must get the vaccine rolled out at pace and be on a war time footing to get people vaccinated. Vaccinations are happening but I want to see the Government doing millions of doses a week, not 300,000 a day.

“We should be bringing in military reservists and using empty schools, empty pubs, any building that has been closed because of Covid, and we have to streamline the system so volunteers can come forward, get the logistics companies in to the move the vaccine across the country at pace and have mass vaccination sites open as well.”

Devon County Council have said they stand ready to help those who are most badly affected by the latest lockdown, the council leader John Hart declared today.

And Cllr Hart appealed to everyone in the county to abide by the rules and defeat the latest virulent strain of the virus,

“I have been speaking to the county’s MPs this morning and I will be chairing a meeting of Team Devon tomorrow,” said Cllr Hart.

“I know so many people have already been badly affected by this terrible virus and the measures we’ve had to take to try to control it.

“Grandparents haven’t seen their grandchildren, families have had to balance working at home with helping to care for their children and those children have missed out on learning and seeing their friends at school.

“And now we are asking them to make those sacrifices all over again. So I want to be clear that we stand ready to do all we can to help those most badly affected by this lockdown, as we did in the two lockdowns last year.

“At least this time we can see some light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccination programme, which I hope the Government will ensure is rolled out at speed.”

Cllr Hart said he welcomed the Chancellor’s new package of aid for the hospitality industry, saying: “I have been calling for the Government to provide specific help for hospitality businesses which are so vital to Devon and the South West but we need to see all the details. Many of these small businesses are already on their knees and they may need more support.”

He praised people’s efforts during the last nine months which had kept Devon’s infection rate amongst the lowest in the country but he added: “We need people to behave now. This is a more virulent strain of the virus and it’s spreading rapidly in other areas.

“People need to go into lockdown and stay there to prevent it getting more of a hold in Devon. This virus doesn’t spread itself, it’s people who spread the virus.”

Cllr Neil Jory, Leader of West Devon Borough Council, added: “Despite the best efforts of our communities, we find ourselves once again in lockdown, which is disappointing, but not entirely surprising when we look at the national picture.

“I thank our residents again for continuing to follow the government’s guidance, with the increased hope that infection rates will soon decrease now that vaccines are being administered around the country. By mid-February, our most vulnerable residents and critical health workers will be protected, with the rest of our residents following soon afterwards.”

Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council, said: “We are of course disappointed to be in national lockdown, however it was inevitable that it would happen sooner, rather than later as infections rise quickly around the country.

“There is growing pressure on hospitals in our region and we must do what we can to support the NHS. We know that these difficult times are extremely hard on our communities and we want to assure them that we are continuing to do everything we possibly can to support them.

“It seems there is light at the end of this tunnel with vaccines now being rolled out and we must continue, as we have been already, to work together to keep our vulnerable residents and communities safe.”