Public Health: Coronavirus Regulations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:12 pm on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Labour, Halton 3:12 pm, 13th October 2020

It does appear that anybody who questions or expresses doubts about the Government’s approach to coronavirus is accused of wanting to let the virus rip, which is patently untrue. I support a number of the rules that have been introduced. This is all about what the balance is, what is common sense, whether we are going too far the other way, the impact on civil liberties, and what will work and have a significant impact on trying to control the virus. That is where the debate is and why some of us are raising questions.

These statutory instruments come on top of as many as four previous announcements between 14 September and 3 October on additional national or local restrictions. The last was a few days ago on 3 October. There lies part of the problem: we have another raft of rules in these SIs today yet the public are bewildered and confused about the previous changes. That has resulted in many people not listening anymore. They just want to use their common sense and get on with their lives. They want more clarity. There is a minority who do not follow the rules, but why should everybody else be penalised and have their civil liberties affected as well? Of course we want more enforcement of sensible, common-sense rules, and we need resources to be able to do that locally, in addition to hand washing, social distancing and face masks, which I will return to shortly.

I have spoken to the chief executives of both my local hospitals. They tell me that they are under increasing pressure and that there is a spike in admissions above the normal expected, but I am also told that the majority who have been admitted are over 70. That is not different from the start of the pandemic, so it should have been no surprise to the Government.

The second part of the SIs sets out more restrictions on business. I am contacted every day by businesses who are in trouble and constituents who are worried about losing their jobs. Two thousand more people have become unemployed in Halton since March. Nobody understands the reasoning behind the 10 pm curfew for hospitality. I have been inundated by constituents about the closure of gyms. Many of my constituents tell me how much has been done to make them safer and about the impact it will have on their physical and mental health if they close. They want to see the evidence and reasoning for closing them.

We do not hear enough from the Government on the unintended consequences of restrictions on healthcare and the impact on diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Many of my constituents do not support the measures to put Halton into tier 3, and I share their scepticism and concern. I have not seen the evidence to give my support to them. We seem to be being used as a guinea pig.

We need to better protect our elderly and vulnerable. We need to better enforce the rules that are sensible and common sense. We need to sort out the test, trace and isolate system, which is not having the impact that it should. We need more competence from this Government and better data to be shared with the public and MPs. This Government have got many things wrong, and they continue to do so. I have no trust in this Government and the way they are working. We need to ensure that we have competent and proper reasoning behind these decisions.