Below is a summary of the new rules and also an update on my work over the last week as Health spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats. I have been urging the Government to sort out the test, trace and isolate system, which is clearly far from functioning as it should, yet it is key to suppressing the virus so that we are not constantly stuck in a repetitive cycle of new restrictions or lockdowns.
London to move to Tier 2 restrictions
London has moved into Tier 2 (high alert) restrictions since last Saturday. The new restrictions include:
- No household mixing indoors, in domestic and public settings (excluding support bubbles)
- The rule of six to continue outdoors
- Pubs and restaurants to continue with a 10pm curfew
- Schools, universities and places of worship to remain open
- People should minimise journeys where possible
- People should work from home when possible
For more information on the rules, please see this link.
Questioning government about the evidence and length of restrictions
Many will be worried what these restrictions will mean for them and how long they will continue to be in force. I asked Matt Hancock if he could provide the evidence behind the measures he’s implementing, and how long the restrictions might last.
Urging government to sort out the test, trace and isolate system
According to SAGE, the test, trace and isolate system is only having a marginal impact on COVID transmission, yet it’s absolutely critical to keeping the virus under control.
I am clear that we should not as a country be in the position we are now with the virus growing out of control across vast swathes of the country. After the immense sacrifices made by the British people during the first lockdown which enabled us to get transmission rates under control, a robust and effective locally-led system of testing, tracing and isolating the virus should have been fully functional and scaled up over the summer months. However, those sacrifices and that time has been squandered.
I have been calling on the government to overhaul the system so that local authorities are leading the contact tracing. Their contact rate this week was 97.7%, whereas the national system only reached 62.6% of contacts. You can read a short speech I delivered in Parliament on local contact tracing yesterday here. In this speech, I also called out the excessive use of very expensive management consultants with limited relevant experience.
Richmond’s infection numbers
On Monday when the Prime Minister made his statement to Parliament about the new tier system, I challenged him about the latest technical glitch in the testing system which has seen many positive cases of students being attributed to their home address, instead of their university address. This has affected about a quarter of new cases in Richmond-upon-Thames.
Lives and jobs are at risk. The Government must urgently get a grip on Test & Trace or the new measures we are being subjected to will not work.