Covid-19

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 12th January 2021.

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Photo of Chris Green Chris Green Conservative, Bolton West 4:45 pm, 12th January 2021

I thank the Minister for Health for the way in which he opened the debate, with a sense of respect for people with all sorts of opinions on this matter. We ought to be able to reflect different views as part of a healthy debate. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend Dr Fox, who is not here at the moment, for speaking about the importance of the use of data, and ensuring that it is not manipulated or abused.

From the very beginning the Government have had a clear plan for how we leave this awful cycle of lockdowns, and it has always been through vaccinations. That goal is now being delivered. We are at a very early stage of the process and it may be lumpy, but there is that commitment to have 13 million of the most vulnerable people in the country at least offered the vaccination by mid-February. The vast majority of those people will take up that offer. In fact, 85% of people expressed an opinion that they wish to take up the vaccination if it is offered. We can see a clear way out once those first four cohorts have the vaccination by mid-February, with two more weeks in order for the vaccination to take its full effect.

With that success, we should all expect to see a reduction or a lightening of the load in terms of the lockdown. People have carried this burden through all this time, since March last year; they need to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and the lightening of the lockdown restrictions following the success of the Government’s vaccination programme. Many of my constituents are enthusiastically looking forward to their vaccinations, especially in Horwich, where they are looking forward to the use of Bolton Wanderers’ football ground, the Macron stadium, for this purpose. Hopefully the Minister will be able to comment on whether the ground is going to be used for the inoculation programme. The Royal Bolton Hospital and Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust are doing an enormous amount of good work. I pay tribute to everyone working in shops, the council, hospitals or care services for the work that they are doing. But with the first goal of delivering the vaccination, we also need to see the lightening of the lockdown load.

The third goal—to get the hat trick—ought to be consideration of whether we need to renew the Coronavirus Act 2020. By renewing it, we set out for many people a fear that lockdown will be resumed in the autumn. By not renewing it, we are telling people, “You can resume your education. You can start your business again. You can feel confident of getting that health treatment,” and we get that recovery going.