Kate writes a bi-weekly column for the Uttoxeter Echo. This column was originally featured in the 21st July print edition.
Earlier this week England moved to step 4 of the Government’s roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions. Whilst cases continue to rise, the link to hospitalisations and deaths has weakened and the Prime Minister has urged caution and public responsibility.
Announcing last week that the step change will go ahead as planned, the Health Secretary Sajid Javid spoke about the balance of risks and that “if not now, then when?” We delayed moving to step 4 in June in order to bring our vaccine wall higher, and with the progress that has been made, he is confident that now is the right time to make the next step.
I know, from the correspondence that I have received from constituents, that the decision to ease restrictions is one that people feel very strongly about. Some believe that it is too soon, and we must do more to stop rising infections, and others believe that it is time to take the next steps in removing legal restrictions.
There is no easy answer here, or one that will appease everyone. We must move forward cautiously and give people the freedom to protect themselves and others through informed choices. This might mean working from home if you can easily do so, wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, and ensuring you test and isolate if you show any of the main covid symptoms.
This next step in the roadmap is one we must all tread with continued caution; respecting that personal responsibility means making decisions to keep ourselves and others safe. The data will be under constant review and if the situation deteriorates then further measures could be reimposed if necessary.
The pandemic is far from over and cases will continue to rise over the coming weeks, but with 80 million vaccinations now administered we can replace the short-term protection of restrictions with the long-standing protections that vaccinations offer. Research so far suggests that 30,000 deaths have been prevented in England alone, along with 8.5 million infections and I would urge everyone to take up the offer of two vaccine doses and protect yourselves and others against covid.