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 5:05 pm on 14th October 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green 5:05 pm, 14th October 2020

My Lords, the classic comedy, “Yes Minister” has a running joke. When the Minister stands up to give a speech, he starts by saying, “We live in a time of change”. That could not be more true now because we are definitely living in a time of change. That, I think, is part of the Government’s problem. They are not actually tackling the mess they have made before they make another one. We now have what appears to be a fairly simple three-tier system, on which one could congratulate the Government, but there is a backlog of complex and convoluted regulations, advice and law that ought to be tidied up. I have raised this issue with the Minister before.

The three tiers are meant to be clear, but I argue that that there are all sorts of complexities in them. There is also the fact that I do not understand exactly how all of this will involve local authorities. Perhaps the Minister can explain that. It seems that we are giving local authorities the opportunity to be the butt of the Government, who can say, “You have messed up again”. What are local authorities going to do and when will we have a locally led test, track, trace, isolate and support system? Local authorities need the money, and they need it fast.

I want to ask a few direct questions. The Minister seems to have a real grasp of the three-tier system, so what kind of pub and restaurant closures will allow most of them to stay open? What kind of gatherings ban will have 17 complex exceptions? What does it mean when you can participate in a gathering of any size, inside or outside, of a tier 2 area, if it is “reasonably necessary for work purposes”? Finally, why is grouse shooting still allowed?