‘Not warranted or wanted’ - what do our MPs think of a potential second lockdown?
PUBLISHED: 13:11 31 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:33 31 October 2020
Victoria Pertusa/Jamie Honeywood/Archant
North Norfolk’s MP says there is “no justification” for a second national lockdown when constituencies such as his own have low infection rates.
Conservative MP Duncan Baker said restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus should not be “blanketed”, adding that the “vast majority” of his constituents have the same point of view.
Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce on Monday a nationwide lockdown for England, which could be introduced on Wednesday and last until December 1.
While new control measures are yet to be signed off by the cabinet, they appear likely to be approved.
But Mr Baker, who assumed the North Norfolk seat in December last year, disagrees with the potential decision.
“We have continued in north Norfolk to have one of the lowest infection rates in the whole country and that remains so,” he said.
“I cannot think of any justification to my constituents of a further national lockdown when we are managing incredibly well through local measures to control outbreaks.
“A further lockdown for my constituency is not warranted or wanted in the vast majority of correspondence I receive. It will have significant adverse impacts on mental health, excess deaths and livelihoods.”
Mr Baker went on to say that imposing widespread restrictions for the entire nation is the wrong approach.
“I have continuously made the point that restrictions must be balanced and proportionate - not blanketed. I keep making the point that within a Tier 3 area, the restrictions should be mandatory that you cannot leave for a holiday and I will make this point again.
“We have to continue balancing the economy, along with people’s health through what is ultimately a very testing Winter ahead.”
Government scientists now believe at least 50,000 new cases of Covid-19 are occurring in England every day, and deaths could reach 4,000 per day at the peak of the second wave.
They believe it is now too late for a two-week circuit-breaker to have the desired effect, and that Tier Three measures are insufficient.
Instead, it is proposed a national lockdown is required to drive the R value below one.
While specific rules are yet to be finalised, it is likely everything will close except essential shops and education facilities, including nurseries, schools and universities.
Mr Baker’s Conservative colleague, Peter Aldous, said the prospect of a second lockdown was “inevitable” - but that young people and businesses had to be better protected.
“I heard the news this morning with a heavy heart, but was not surprised,” said Mr Aldous, MP for Waveney. “It was probably inevitable the government would have to consider this.
“It may well be that all the evidence points towards another lockdown. However, I do think it will be markedly different because schools, colleges and universities will remain open - that is extremely important.
“We are going to have to live with this virus and its implications for years, so we must do all we can to not hold younger generations back.
“In terms of the impact on businesses, if we enter a second lockdown the Chancellor must come forward with a new set of support measures. In our area the hospitality sector has really suffered and was not properly supported during the first lockdown.”
Meanwhile, Jerome Mayhew, MP for Broadland, would not be drawn on whether imposing a national lockdown was the right call, saying decisions should be left up to health experts.
“I think we have to wait for the national data,” added Mr Mayhew. “We have all suddenly become experts when, actually, we are not.
“I have a lot of faith in what public health teams tell us and I just think we should pause and let the experts give us proper advice.
“It is all about the balance between lives and livelihoods, and I have confidence that the government is doing its best.”
• We have contacted all of Norfolk’s MPs for their thoughts. This story will be updated with their reaction.
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