Public Health: Coronavirus Regulations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:47 pm on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Paul Bristow Paul Bristow Conservative, Peterborough 5:47 pm, 13th October 2020

I have no choice but to be brief, so I shall make three short points.

First, lockdowns hit poorer people—those on shifts, those in insecure work, those who work in retail or hospitality, those who work alone and those who live in flats or smaller houses. Poorer people suffer when the economy suffers, so it is deeply regrettable that Labour Members have called for a second full national lockdown. That again reaffirms their position as the party for economic destruction. I urge the Government to resist calls for a full second national lockdown. That would be harsh and destructive, and it would condemn people on low incomes to much more difficult lives.

Secondly, what happened in Peterborough during the last lockdown was remarkable. Stevie Wiley, Ishfaq Hussain and Zillur Hussain, as well as countless others, inspired a city. We looked after the vulnerable. We delivered food to those who were shielding. We fed our rough sleepers. We come in different shapes and sizes, and from different ethnic groups. We even speak different languages, but we came through this as one city—perhaps more than any other city—although I do not want to do this again. Couples remain unmarried. Serious medical conditions remain undiagnosed and, in the case of my father, who died during lockdown, we are still unable to say goodbye in the way I would like. To be honest, I still grieve over this.

Peterborough has a rate of 56.4 cases per 100,000 people. For a big city with intergenerational households, dense housing and economic challenges, that really is a remarkable achievement. We have done the right thing and we do not want to be in tier 2. I want the Minister to hear this very clearly: we do not want to be in tier 2 and we will do everything we can to prevent this.

That brings me on to my final point. So many pubs and restaurants in Peterborough feel as though they are being punished for doing the right thing. They have gone to considerable expense to prepare themselves for these restrictions, and the 10 pm curfew in my city is having a devastating impact. Pubs and restaurants have closed—it is not that they might be closing—as a result of this. Why? When I look my local pub landlords and bar managers in the eye, I struggle to answer that. So I urge the Minister to review that 10 pm curfew, communicate why he feels it is a good idea, listen to the industry and reflect on what I have said today.