Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:37 pm on 14th December 2020.

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Photo of Robbie Moore Robbie Moore Conservative, Keighley 8:37 pm, 14th December 2020

It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Chris Loder. Covid-19 has affected each and every part of our lives. It is a virus that is destroying our communities, our livelihoods and, of course, our way of life. I have spoken in this Chamber previously, on many times, about the impact that this virus and the associated restrictions are having on businesses, particularly on those in the hospitality sector and the other connected sectors, such as the wedding industry and the tourism industry.

The virus and restrictions are also affecting things such as gyms and dance studios, which, of course, under the restrictions in tier 3, which my constituency is in, are unable to hold classes indoors. I must pay tribute to Andrea Wortley, who runs a dance studio in my constituency. I have been to see her and can say that she is a great ambassador for the sector and has shown a real willingness to try to get her dance classes open again. I reiterate that directly to the Minister. I really want to put weight on this, because my constituency has been locked in local restrictions going way back to July, and many of my constituents are becoming increasingly frustrated, but we are trying incredibly hard. Our rates are now dropping at a great rate and I urge those on the Front Bench to look at the figures across the Bradford district, and across my constituency in particular, and to consider dropping it from tier 3 to tier 2, even if that means looking at a geographically localised approach.

Today, I want to focus on the extraordinary scientific and medical breakthroughs that have been made over the past year. They will form a crucial weapon in our armoury as we enter 2021. It is hard to believe that the first cases of covid were detected just over a year ago, but from technology to testing, treatments and vaccines, science is giving us new ways to beat this terrible virus.

It is remarkable how businesses are playing their part. Madam Deputy Speaker, you must come to my constituency because I have some great examples. We have been developing technologies to inactivate covid-19 on surfaces using far ultraviolet-C light emitted by krypton-chlorine lights. That technology is being developed by one of Britain’s world-leading universities, St Andrews in Fife. Another business based in my constituency—in Ilkley—GermzAway, has developed a hand sanitiser without an alcohol base, which is kinder on the skin and just as effective. Many of our great manufacturing businesses across the constituency, such as Global Precision in the Worth valley, are playing their part in producing PPE and, on a recent visit, I saw the great work that they were doing.

We have seen safe, effective vaccines developed at remarkable speeds by scientists around the world, including at Oxford. Oxford University has created a vaccine for the world that is as affordable as a cup of coffee and as easy to distribute as any refrigerated food product. It is just waiting to be approved. For those who are unable to take vaccines, for example, because of severe allergic reactions, the UK is now trialling an innovative antibody cocktail to provide protection. We are seeing how rapid testing will allow us to open up new parts of society and the economy. Recently, it was incredibly moving to see the images of care home residents being able to hug loved ones for the first time since March, thanks to new rapid testing—lateral flow testing—coming through.

So progress is being made. We have heard how Birmingham is looking at a new test and dine scheme, potentially allowing a route to enable our hospitality sector to reopen. I urge the Front-Bench team to do all they can to make this scheme work, as it would be hugely beneficial in my constituency, where the hospitality industry has been battered as a result of increased restrictions. Actually, if it does work, perhaps it could be rolled out to other industries as well.

In conclusion, science really is one of our greatest weapons in our armoury to protect us against this terrible virus. Going into 2021, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I pay tribute to all across Keighley and Ilkley who have done all they can—including our NHS, our care home workers, our teachers and our key workers—to fight this terrible virus. Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel, better days do lie ahead, and I am confident that the next 12 months will be much better.