James Wild: Trying to avoid national lockdown
The latest column by North West Norfolk's MP during the pandemic period, Friday, October 16, 2020
This week the Prime Minister set out new local Covid Alert Levels to simplify and standardise local rules.
Areas within England will be placed into one of the three tiers of medium, high, and very high risk. This revised approach is in response to a quadrupling of cases across the country in the last three weeks, primarily in the North East and North West.
Along with much of the country, West Norfolk – and Norfolk as a whole - is at the medium alert level. That means that the current national measures apply – such as the rule of six and the closure of hospitality at 10pm.
While we are at medium risk, the number of cases has increased here and could continue to grow. So it is important to follow the advice in order to help keep the virus under control and avoid moving into the higher risk categories which will place further restrictions on our lives.
The toughest restrictions apply to very high alert areas where transmission is rising most rapidly – where the NHS could soon be under unbearable pressure.
Along with other MPs, I was briefed by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer this week who explained the increased hospitalisation rates being seen. Additional restrictions in the very high risk areas include limits on hospitality, leisure, and personal care sectors. People living in those areas should not travel for overnight stays in other areas.
The Prime Minister and Conservative MPs want to avoid going back to a national lockdown. That would mean children unable to go to school, and huge damage to our economy. As unwelcome as the restrictions are, a tailored approach can help bring the virus under control once more.
Businesses that are required to close will receive grants to pay the wages of staff who cannot work. The welcome extension to the Job Support Scheme means that they will receive grants to cover two-thirds of the wages of staff who cannot work and cash grants of up to £3,000 a month.
Parliament will continue to debate on vote on controls and rightly the measures will be subject to regular review.
As well as Covid-19, we face winter flu.
Some constituents have contacted me regarding flu jabs. The vaccine is delivered to GPs, and pharmacies in batches partly as it is produced in a phased way and also to allow appointments to be scheduled alongside other services.
A third of the national total of vaccine was ordered for September and has been delivered. More vaccine is being delivered each month and into the flu season which normally starts in December. But I well understand the frustration of not being able to get an appointment and I have raised concerns with ministers and the local NHS.
Next week the King’s Lynn and West Norfolk History Festival begins with a mixture of digital and physical events.
This is a great initiative to bring our rich heritage and history to life involving the Lynn Museum, True’s Yard, GroundWork Galley, King’s Lynn Minster, and more.
Hopefully there is something for everyone over half term