Yesterday I met with representatives from local pubs and gyms to discuss the impact of the covid restrictions and what support they need at this very challenging time.
The introduction of Tier 4 restrictions in response to the new variant of covid which has emerged has meant that hospitality, leisure and non-essential retain has again had to close. I know many businesses have invested time and money in preparing for the holiday season, not only implementing covid secure measures but also buying stock which now cannot be used. While support measures such as the furlough scheme and business grants are in place, I will continue to make representations to government on behalf of local businesses affected by covid where more support is required, while working to ensure we can ease restrictions again as soon as it is safe to do so.
I know many people are upset and anxious over all the new restrictions, I too am disappointed that they are now required. In the autumn I campaigned hard to ensure that where restrictions were necessary to manage the rate of infection they imposed the minimum burdens possible to achieve this, and I was pleased that the new tier system ensured retail, communal worship, and gyms/leisure could remain open under all 3 planned tiers. However the new variant of covid poses a new threat, with early analysis suggesting it is significantly more infectious, meaning the assessment of risk and our response has also had to change as a result.
It is essential that we learn as much as we can about this new threat and make that data available so that these decisions can be scrutinised and adjusted where the evidence shows it is safe to do so.