Over the last 12 months everyone has made unprecedented sacrifices, the diligence of the UK public has been instrumental in preventing the spread of the virus and saving lives.
Thanks to the Government’s brilliant vaccination rollout, three-quarters of the UK adult population have now received a first dose of the vaccine. This means we are now nearing the point at which we can return to normal. The Data continues to show that vaccinations do slow the spread of the virus whilst also reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death. We have seen the daily deaths from Covid-19 almost eliminated since the start of the year and hospitalisations continue to be low. However, though the link between infection and hospitalisation has been weakened it hasn't been severed.
Since the detection and spread of the Indian or Delta variant of Covid-19, cases have been rising across the UK and here in Blackpool. It is now expected that the Delta variant doubles the risk of hospitalisation and is 60% more transmissible. With this in mind, I would have still liked to see restrictions end on the 21st June.
The Prime Minister does not think this is the right time to ease the remaining restrictions. He has maintained since announcing the Government Roadmap that the easing of restrictions must be irreversible. There is real concern that if the restrictions were to be eased further the virus would spread too quickly and result in increasing number of deaths.
Delaying the 4th step of the roadmap until the 19th July will allow time for everyone over 18 to have been offered at least one jab, and 2/3rds of adults to have received both jabs. This will give the entire population far greater protection against the virus and reduce the peak in hospital by up to a half.
I realise that this will be very disappointing to many people. However, from the start, the Government has based the easing of restrictions on data not dates. It is also worth remembering that the Government has the most up to date data on this virus and the best scientific advice available. We are fortunate to now be in a position where most of our freedoms have returned and 99% of the economy has been able to re-open.
I have spoken to a number of residents who have been worried about restrictions being eased too quickly and therefore the new variant spreading too fast. After so much sacrifice, to avoid any future lockdowns, it would appear reasonable to implement a small 4 week delay to the final restrictions easing.
I will be looking carefully at the Governments reasoning for the delay and will continue to support getting back to normal as soon as possible.