Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:37 pm on 18th November 2020.

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Photo of Tom Hunt Tom Hunt Conservative, Ipswich 6:37 pm, 18th November 2020

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker; I will be incredibly quick.

This is an incredibly fast-moving situation, and it is too early to tell whether the second national lockdown has had the effect that the Government would have liked. Although it is hard to provide certainty, that is what a growing number of people in my constituency need. Retailers and the hospitality sector have lost November, which is one of their busiest months. They need to know as soon as possible what December will look like. Will they have the opportunity to make up some of the losses they have made so far, or will the restrictions be extended? Non-essential retailers in particular need that certainty, such as Coes on Norwich Road in my constituency, which provides essential school supplies. There is an argument that it should have been allowed to stay open, because there is a lack of a level playing field between that shop and essential retailers that sell non-essential items within them and were able to carry on selling those products. However, we do not want to see the scenes that we saw in Wales.

The school kids I met last Friday at Stoke High School have already lost a lot of learning, and they want certainty about what their education will look like in the year ahead. They want to know whether they will do exams and whether their mocks are a practice or will count towards the grade they end up getting. They deserve certainty as soon as possible as well.

I want to touch briefly on test and trace. I agree with the points made by my hon. Friend Aaron Bell. Compliance is very low at the moment among contacts asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Some of that is to do with financial assistance, but some of it is also to do with the toll of going through that period. I have done it myself, and it is incredibly difficult for people who live in a small property with no fresh air.

Ipswich has low levels of covid compared with other parts of country. We need to remain vigilant, and we need certainty in key areas as soon as the Government are able to provide it. The education sector needs to know whether there will be exams and what they will look like, and the retail and hospitality sector needs to know whether it will be able to use December to make those gains. They need to plan soon, and every day matters, because hopefully they will be able to do that.