My Lords, I broadly support the Government in trying to find a coherent way to communicate the plethora of measures now in place across different parts of the country. As a staunch civil libertarian, the current situation and approach go against my instinct and a lifetime of campaigning, but despite this, I am convinced that the Government’s approach has been necessary.
I am not of the “No masks, no lockdown” ilk, but I am increasingly concerned about what appear to be illogical measures. I raised this last week in the House when speaking about businesses that operate both as restaurants and wedding venues. Wedding ceremonies are rarely conducted on the premises, but they provide simply a large and convenient space for a meal to be served after a formal ceremony. Can my noble friend explain why restaurant seating 40, 50 or even a 100-plus can serve 100 people a meal, providing that it follows social distancing guidelines on, say, a Monday evening, but not do the same on a Tuesday evening if it is as part of an organised meal? This simply does not make sense. These premises are hosting large numbers for dinners in a safe and socially distanced way on a daily basis, but are not being allowed to do so for a specific purpose.
I urge my noble friend to ask his colleagues to think again about the detail in the dashboards and find ways in which business and industry, as set out by many noble Lords today, specifically my noble friends Lady Noakes and Lord Lilley, can continue to operate within parameters based on safety and science and, above all, common sense.