The restrictions imposed by this statutory instrument can protect the people of Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull only if the test and trace system that runs alongside it is reliable. Some 16,000 infectious people across the country being missed off the national test and trace dashboard, with their tens of thousands of contacts still to be traced, makes another huge dent in people’s confidence in the system. I see that the restrictions imposed by this instrument have to be reviewed every two weeks and that the last review was on
My second point is about communications. The message is obviously not getting through, despite the valiant efforts of strong local leadership in the West Midlands. Birmingham people say they are baffled, as my noble friend Lord Rooker said, by the new restrictions and how they operate. The message that transmission within the home is dangerous, which I am sure is the message that the Government want to put out there, is not being heard. From the serious rise in cases in a city that I know well and represented for 15 years, it is easy to see how Birmingham’s reaction to the Government’s often mixed and muddled communications on restrictions is an echo of the compliance-weariness and lack of trust in authority that have set in across the country, especially among young people. It is my personal heresy that that lack of trust can be carbon-dated, certainly among young people, from a spring tour of the north by a certain Mr Dominic Cummings. However, we are where we are, as they say, and for this SI to work alongside the penalties regime attached to it, the Government’s communication strategy must be crystal clear and reflect the rich diversity of modern Birmingham, modern Sandwell and modern Solihull, or things will be very much worse very soon. None of us wants that.