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Statement on Covid-19 Restrictions


2nd December 2020

The move from national lockdown to the tier system is going to continue to see many people living under very severe restrictions. Just under 99 per cent of England’s population will continue under the heightened restrictions of Tiers 2 or 3, compared to 58 per cent of the population that were under similar tiers before the second lockdown. These restrictions have extraordinary costs, especially for the hospitality industry and I do not think it is feasible for us to live with such restrictions for months and months.

There is no doubt that Covid is a deadly disease to many and it is vital that we control its spread effectively. But I believe we must give equal regard to other lethal killers like cancer, dementia and heart disease, to people’s mental health, and all the health implications of poverty and falling GDP. Implications that I am growing increasingly concerned about.

The Government has borrowed more this year than at any point since the Second World War, we have a higher national debt than the size of our economy for the first time since around 1960, and the OBR forecasts that the UK economy will shrink by 11.3 per cent this year – the biggest fall in our standard of living for 300 years.

We often talk about “overwhelming our NHS” but the truth is, if we shatter our economy, we won’t be able to fund our NHS properly.
As with when I voted against the second national lockdown, my decision to vote against the imposition of these latest measures was again not taken lightly. Before doing so I joined many colleagues in Parliament in asking for an assessment of the impact these proposals will have on controlling Covid, as well as a cost-benefit analysis showing the non-Covid health impact and the impact on people’s livelihoods and businesses.

On 30th November, the Government released their “analysis of the health, economic and social effects of COVID-19 and the approach to tiering”. However, not only did this analysis show that there are significant non-Covid health costs of restrictions such as increased alcohol use, increased child and maternal malnutrition, increased depressive disorders, increased self-harm and increased domestic abuse - there has also been no attempt to assess the impact of the economic restrictions or their health impact.

The government’s central claim in support of these measures is hospital capacity. My colleagues and I have said that we will support the government if it shows us the data and the evidence to back up this claim, but this has not been forthcoming.

We need a strong economy for a strong NHS, and we have always known that livelihoods are fundamental to wellbeing. I believe that measures being implemented should take into account their non-Covid harms and that this evidence should be made public. In order to have voted for these latest restrictions and to severely curtail the civil liberties of my constituents I was going to need full evidence of their justification. This not being forthcoming, I voted against the restrictions on the basis that they are too serious and harmful to impose on my constituents without seeing the evidence.

The preliminary data from the vaccine candidates is very welcome news but the Government is clear that a vaccine cannot be an immediate solution. It will take months to rollout, even to the most vulnerable. We must therefore deliver a way of living with the virus in the meantime which minimises the harms caused by coronavirus and the response to coronavirus.

I continue to hear from many local businesses who say that they are unlikely to survive further restrictions. I also hear from constituents on a daily basis who describe to me the horrendous impact that ongoing restrictions are having on them and their families.

Huntingdonshire currently has one of the lowest rates of coronavirus cases in the entire country, and with Hinchingbrooke Hospital seeing only a handful of Covid related cases at any one time it is hard to justify greater restrictions being imposed on us as we come out of national lockdown than we had when we went into it. This draconian approach fails to recognise the hard work and diligence of local people who have been doing everything they can to help reduce transmission rates.

Given this, and without a concurrent strategy for living with Covid, we run the risk of being asked to continue living under ongoing restrictions, economic damage and cycles of lockdowns. I am afraid I do not accept that we should just repeat the same holding pattern and simply ‘wait and see’.

Jonathan Djanogly



Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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