Today the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, announced details of the new tier system that will come into force when national lockdown is lifted on 2nd December.
But, as Munira pointed out in the Chamber today, Government messaging on Covid restrictions to date has not been clear, leading to confusion on how to follow them.
Munira therefore called on the Government to provide a clear and consistent communications campaign so that the public are confident in which regulations to follow.
In the Chamber, Munira said:
“Thank you Madam Deputy Speaker. A recent UCL study found that with the previous tier system, less than half the public understood what the rules were for the tiers.
So today we have a new tier system, we have a 5-day relaxation at Christmas, we have a Government website that’s just crashed this morning, the Written Ministerial Statement that’s been published this morning has got a number of question marks against different areas, there have been inconsistencies regarding timing between what the Prime Minister has said, what the OBR has said, and what the Secretary of State has told MPs in terms of length of restrictions.
So I have a very simple request: will the Secretary of State please ensure there is a very clear, consistent, and honest communications campaign to ensure public trust, compliance, and so we don’t overly raise expectations?”
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, replied:
“Yes, there will be a very widespread public information campaign about these new tiers because it’s on all of us to follow the rules in our local area and out with the rules, notwithstanding the rules, make sure that all of us – we all need to behave in a responsible way because we all have a role in controlling the spread of the virus.”
After the exchange, Munira said:
“The country is desperate to get life back to normal, particularly given how much has already been sacrificed, so people will understandably be angry today.
For months, I have been urging the Government to get to grips with test, trace and isolate. Getting that right is the best hope we have until a vaccine is ready. Their failure to deliver is why we are where we are.
Given just one in two understood the rules last time, it is clear the Government has created confusion with their botched communications. In addition to mass testing, Ministers must work with local authorities and finally start being clear and honest with the public.”