No10 has ‘gambled with the UK’s future’ by choosing to relax Covid-19 restrictions over Christmas, MPs warn
- Review by cross-party group of MPs will slam the Governments response
- It will accuse ministers of making ‘false choices’ between lives and the economy
- And say that this has led to the UK facing one of the highest death tolls
The review into the Government’s handling of the pandemic accuses ministers of making ‘false choices’ between saving lives or saving jobs and the economy.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus say this has led to the UK ‘mourning among the highest number of lives lost to the pandemic, while at the same time bracing for one of the deepest recessions in its aftermath’.
Up to three households will be able to mix with each other over the Christmas period – between December 23 to 27. But this has led to fears there will be a spike in cases in the new year, with some suggestions a ‘firebreak’ would be required in January to reduce infections again.
Official figures reveal 60,000 people have died from the virus since the pandemic began in the UK, one of the highest death tolls in Europe and across the world.
Up to three households will be able to mix with each other over the Christmas period – between December 23 to 27
Layla Moran MP, chair of the APPG on Coronavirus, said that while the vaccine was good news, there are fears we are hurtling towards a third spike by the New Year.
She said: ‘We are concerned that the government’s approach so far has not worked and has left the UK mourning one of the highest number of lives lost to the pandemic, while at the same time bracing for one of the deepest recessions in its aftermath.
‘The Pfizer vaccine being approved is certainly promising news, but the Government can’t take its foot off the peddle as vaccines are approved. Our cross-party inquiry has clear evidence that we need a long-term exit strategy for a Covid-Secure UK that suppresses and controls coronavirus properly before rolling out vaccines.
‘Our message to the Prime Minister is that without a proper long-term exit strategy, relying on a tier system we know doesn’t work and waiting for enough people to be vaccinated will only lead to a likely third spike and lockdown in the New Year.’
The report also criticised the Government for returning to a tier system ‘we know has not worked before’.
But regions under the old Tier Three – where Britons were allowed to visit restaurants and bars providing they had a ‘substantial meal’ – including Liverpool and Lancashire were both showing drops in case numbers before the nationwide shutdown.
A revamped tier system has now come into force across England following the end of the national lockdown, with 99 per cent of the population under the harshest Tier Two or Tier Three restrictions.
But the Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the dawn after the pandemic is now ‘in sight’ after the MHRA approved Pfizer’s vaccine for use. The vaccine will arrive in the UK today, with care home residents, the elderly and NHS workers first in line for the jab.
One expert has insisted a third lockdown may be needed in January, despite the news that medics would start dishing out the vaccine this month.
The report calls for the government to adopt a Covid-Secure UK plan, to suppress the coronavirus and then catch new cases at UK entry points while the vaccine programmes are rolled out.
The report recommends ‘aggressive testing at the borders, turning our island geography into a powerful advantage’.
There are also calls for a shift away from the centralised model of test and trace, which it says has consistently failed to meet the required target of 80 per cent of contacts traced to be effective, to one led by local authorities.
It noted the devastating toll that isolation is having on those in social care and care homes, urging all people living in care or supported living to be safely reconnected with their support networks for the crucial emotional and practical support that friends and families provide.