Westminster Diary - MP Jeremy Wright believes all Covid restrictions should be lifted in May - The Leamington Observer

Westminster Diary - MP Jeremy Wright believes all Covid restrictions should be lifted in May

BEFORE significant progress was made on vaccination, the primary driver in our response to Covid-19 was to prevent or to minimise transmission, and that was clearly right when transmission in any part of society was likely to lead to infection, hospitalisation or death of those most vulnerable to the virus. However, the government have—rightly, in my view—prioritised those most clinically vulnerable in the vaccine roll-out, meaning that, by the end of April, those accounting for 99 per cent of mortality from the virus will have received at least one dose.

We know the vaccine is effective, and we know that take-up is very high among vulnerable groups, so by the end of April, we know that the level of protection given to those most likely to die or be hospitalised by this virus will be very extensive. We know too that those remaining unvaccinated will overwhelmingly be younger and less vulnerable to that virus and that about a third of the population will have no symptoms of infection, meaning that if they have had the virus, they may already have antibodies, and if they have not, they will not be ill.

All of this taken together must mean that the overall risks of death and hospitalisation are much lower than they were, and that is surely the most important consideration. Pre-vaccine, those risks clearly outweighed the risks to our mental health, our general welfare and our livelihoods that come from extensive restrictions to our liberties. However, in quantifying those risks for May or June of this year in a substantially vaccinated Britain, how different are they likely to be from the risks posed by other illnesses such as flu, or even other causes of death such as road traffic accidents, in response to which we do not seek to impose even the restrictions scheduled for the later stages of government’s road map?

If we were considering not the continuation of restrictions at this point but their initiation, would we consider those restrictions justified? I am not convinced that we would. We have never run our lives or our country on the basis that no risk is acceptable. We have always balanced risks, and we have to do so again here. The truth is that the risks of reopening too slowly are not negligible. Removing restrictions in June and not in May means weeks more misery for those who have found these restrictions particularly hard and for businesses, including hospitality and tourism businesses, for which this is an important part of the year.

I do not think we should lift all restrictions immediately (on which a commons vote took place last week), but I do think that we should combine steps 3 and 4 of the Government’s road map and remove almost all restrictions in May. An entirely precautionary approach is simply not feasible. We know that Covid will be with us for some time—perhaps indefinitely—and we cannot respond to that with indefinite restrictions any more than we would, or do, in response to the risk of other diseases.

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