Covid-19: Statement by Harlow MP Robert Halfon on latest restrictions

News / Sat 19th Dec 2020 at 05:56pm

Statement by Harlow MP Robert Halfon

OVER the past few days, including on Thursday this week, I have been in meetings with the Health Minister, Public Health England, where it was explained to me why Harlow was put in Tier 3. It was also confirmed that a few days ‘amnesty’ over Christmas could take place.

Following the Press Conference this Saturday afternoon by the Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA), the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and the Prime Minister, this decision has been changed and Harlow will be now in a new Tier 4, taking effect from tomorrow morning. This will be reviewed regularly, with the next formal review on 30 December.

The Prime Minister has said that information received in the last 24 hours, and a briefing that he received yesterday from the GCSA and CMO, indicates the severity of a new variant strain of the virus. Early analysis of the new variant suggests that it could increase the number of people infected significantly (it may be up to 70% more transmissible) – although, thank goodness, there is no evidence to suggest it is any more dangerous in its effect or that the vaccine will be any less effective against it. Nonetheless, without tougher restrictions, this could put huge pressure on our NHS if the number of infections continues to grow at ever-increasing speed.

For this reason, Tier 4 will be imposed, meaning that households cannot mix over Christmas (unless in a support bubble). Non-essential shops, indoor gyms and leisure facilities and personal care facilities will be closed. Travel will be restricted. Those workers who can work from home should do so. Individuals can only meet one person from another household in an outdoor public space but everyone should stay at home as much as possible.

From the bottom of my heart, I am so very sorry to all Harlow and village residents who will not be able to celebrate Christmas in the way we all thought we were going to be allowed to. I had really wanted the Christmas Covid-19 ‘amnesty’ to take place because I knew how hard it has been for everyone not to be able to see their loved ones.

We have had a difficult few weeks and months but the vaccine is being rolled out to residents in Harlow and, if we all do our best to stay safe and follow the rules, we will get over the worst of it.

I wish every resident a peaceful and happy Christmas under these circumstances that we find ourselves.

The full Prime Minister’s statement is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-ministers-statement-on-coronavirus-covid-19-19-december-2020

Full Covid-19 guidance for residents and businesses is available on the Gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

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1 Comment for Covid-19: Statement by Harlow MP Robert Halfon on latest restrictions:

2020-12-20 12:29:26

There's a clear flaw in the way that the PM and ministers get updated on the spread of the virus. This morning Matt Hancock says he and the cabinet were not informed that the variant was highly transmissible, in the same tv programme top scientist said that the variant was first detected in Medway in September and was tracked as cases were rapidly rising in Kent through October and the neighbouring counties through December, the flaw in the system was that it wasn't until research had been done on the nature of the virus to establish it's characteristics that the minister and PM were informed thisThursday/ Friday: the point is that scientists neither needed or should have delayed whilst research was done: the figures, statistics, patterns and trends ie the maths were there in October and very clear in November and it's this that should have triggered the application of lockdown measures being applied in Kent in October and neighbouring counties in mid November. The whole point of sophisticated statistical modeling is to get ahead of the spread of any varient of the virus the ministers need to act early on the numbers not wait until the exact biological profile "mug shot" of the variant is established. That's like seeing an invading army assembling and crossing the border and not acting until one has a photo of every soldier. Such delay put's us all in danger. There was no need to wait.

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