The Government’s responsibilities, for both lives and livelihoods, require an almost impossible balancing act that is unlikely to satisfy anyone, least of all natural Conservative job creators, who ask only to be allowed to get on with their business with as little interference as possible. The uncomfortable reality, however, is that our country would not accept those struck by the pandemic dying without dignity if hospitals and mortuaries are full, and that means doing things that none of us imagined in our wildest nightmares.
In constituencies such as mine—Gloucester is in tier 1 —the message must be for all to take the restrictions seriously to avoid becoming a higher risk area with yet more severe restrictions. We must enable Gloucestershire Royal Hospital to have capacity to help those with covid and treat cancer and other patients. I urge the Government to promise less and deliver more and to provide a faster testing service so that those at our universities, colleges and schools can function well. They should expedite the go-ahead for Heathrow’s 20-minute test for travellers and reconsider the details of the 10 pm closure when supermarkets are still selling booze later.
The Government should increase delegation to local authorities, such as the responsible public health team at Gloucestershire County Council, and let us all share as much information as possible. As these restrictions continue, they should carefully consider ways to allow young mother and baby groups to meet, for example, or allow some fans at outdoor sport. We will need those small moments of joy to help us through an otherwise difficult winter. I will support the Government tonight, but those questions need answering. The cost of lost livelihoods will only grow while we wait to see whether these restrictions work and science provides longer-term solutions.