With more people being vaccinated against Covid-19 every day, we can soon begin to gradually replace national lockdown restrictions. I understand the concerns that the pace of the unwinding of these restrictions does not go fast enough, but it is right that the Government is clear that this progress must be irreversible. Caution now will help ensure that this is the final lockdown, meaning certainty going forward for schools, employers and families.
Progress will be based on the Government’s four tests; vaccine deployment, effectiveness of vaccines in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated, infection rates not putting unsustainable pressure on the NHS, and the assessment of risks not being fundamentally changed by new variants.
It has been confirmed that the first step will be getting all children back into schools from 8th March. It is right that this is such a high priority, particularly considering the effect of the last year on young people’s mental health and academic attainment.
Other changes from this date will include care home residents being able to have one regular visitor, providing they are tested and wear PPE.
While people will be able to leave home for recreation outdoors, for example a coffee or picnic with their household/support bubble or with one person outside their household, the Stay at Home requirement will remain until 29th March.
The success of our vaccination programme has dramatically changed our odds in defeating this disease. By proceeding through the national roadmap to recovery, freedoms can be restored without undoing the sacrifices that have helped get us to this point.
Some 20 million people have received a vaccine so far across the United Kingdom. In Crawley, more than 25,000 people have had at least one dose of the vaccination.
Government’s ambition is now to offer a coronavirus vaccine to every adult in the country by the end of July. Now well over 1 in 3 of all adults across the country have received a jab.
When you receive an invitation to get your Covid vaccine please take this up. I look forward to having the vaccine when I am eligible and invited to do so.
Further welcome news came last week in the form of moving the Covid Alert Level down from Level 5, the highest, to Level 4. While we cannot be complacent, the four UK Chief Medical Officers have agreed that we are seeing numbers declining consistently, and the threat of the NHS being overwhelmed has receded.
I am grateful for the work of NHS, social care and all key workers in Crawley, each playing their part in our response to the pandemic.
Henry Smith MP