Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (High) (England) Regulations 2020 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:48 pm on 14th October 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Crawley Baroness Crawley Labour 4:48 pm, 14th October 2020

My Lords, I thank the Minister. While I will support the measure, as I supported my noble friend Lady Thornton, I want to ask the noble Lord a few questions about why we are where we are.

Will the Minister update us on the 25 used test kits mistakenly handed out last night in Selly Oak, Birmingham? More generally, why is test and trace still not running at all effectively, having been launched way back in May? These lockdown restrictions will be of benefit to people only if test results come back quickly, enough people are tested and, if positive, they properly isolate. There needs to be a complete reset on a system that is only marginally useful at best and throws up mistakes such as the possibility of cross-contamination in Selly Oak at worst.

Why is it also, as several noble Lords have said, that financial support for areas in the new high-alert level, especially for the hospitality sector, is still not generous enough to cover people’s needs over the coming months? As my noble friend Lord Hunt said, if we take a city such as Birmingham, the leader of the council, Ian Ward, has said that 135,000 hospitality jobs and livelihoods are now at risk. Without even going into the argument about whether pubs are safer than people’s homes, as far as transmission is concerned, the fact remains that in high-alert level areas, some businesses—indeed, many businesses—and jobs will be lost in the coming months. Can the Minister give some comfort to those people whose jobs, especially in hospitality, are now at risk?

Unless national and local government morph into some 21st-century version of the old East German Stasi, there is no way that people can be continually spied on in their own homes, but the Government can regulate public venues such as pubs and restaurants, which is why, I suspect, hospitality is being targeted. It is a decision to tackle transmission where it can be enforced, but it will still leave many people jobless.