Public Health: Coronavirus Regulations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:35 pm on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Emma Hardy Emma Hardy Shadow Minister (Education) 4:35 pm, 13th October 2020

The Government must be under no illusion: the country’s patience and goodwill are wearing thin. People were promised that the lockdown pain would be worth it as they experienced friends, colleagues and family members lose businesses and be made redundant, separation from loved ones, the cancellation of hospital appointments, and children missing out on education. They were promised a world-beating track and trace system. They were promised that the Prime Minister had taken personal control. They were told that it would be all over by Christmas. After 204 days, we are back to square one: the fourth worst in the world for Covid cases.

I spoke last week to a pub landlord, who did not mince his words and had reached the end of his tether. He had three pubs: now he has only two. He has seen his costs increase and income fall. He says he did everything the Government asked of him: he shut for 13 weeks; he moved tables; he turned off music; he turned off sports commentaries; he moved drinks outside; he opened doors and windows; he asked people to sit down; he stopped more than six being in a group; he split up families and support bubbles; he told people not to shout; he banned singing; he banned dancing; he banned live music; he started wearing masks; he completed track and trace; he got sanitary stations; he had additional cleaning; he had table service; and now he has been told he must shut at 10 pm, which means last orders at 9.15 pm, because having been a barmaid I know that people need drinking-up time before they can be cleared out. That therefore means that business is being lost from 9.15 pm.

He does not understand it. The science is telling him that it does not have significant reasons for following it, and what we need from Government are evidence and clarity. He has been let down. He needs support for businesses, and not just for those in tier 3 but those right across the country. We need a commitment that there will be adequate notice for any of these changes.

It is ludicrous that people in tier 3 can order alcohol only if they have a “substantial meal”. What is a substantial meal? If they order a salad they cannot have a glass of wine, but anything with a pastry lid means they can have a pint. This is nonsense. We are treating the public like fools.

We need to improve communication. The Government must not underestimate how angry people are. People are losing faith in the Government, and that is dangerous. Hull West and Hessle was already suffering because of a decade of austerity and of cuts—a decade of cuts that the Prime Minister seems to forget he voted for.

Our hospitality trade brings colour to our lives—those social moments that we enjoy; the times we are with friends and family and celebrate weddings, anniversaries and birthdays. Pubs help to bring the community together. This Government’s incompetence is killing them off, and they will not be forgiven.