I welcome the Government’s decision to keep Tendring in Tier 2 restrictions, whilst other parts of Essex move up to Tier 3. Our area has one of the lowest infection rates in the county, and it is right that these restrictions are applied in a way that reflects the reality of the situation on the ground.
Following outbreaks elsewhere, it was previously reported that our area would move up to Tier 3 to keep restrictions across Essex the same. To me that was an unacceptable outcome, as it simply would not have been right for Tendring residents and businesses to have been punished because of an isolated and distant outbreak amongst a small percentage of the county’s population.
That is why, prior to this decision being made, I worked with other local MPs to make strong representations to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, in which we asked for Essex to be subdivided to allow those areas, like Tendring, that have lower infection rates to ease rather than raise restrictions. In recent days, I have been part of near constant discussions on this matter, and I am pleased that the Government has listened to and acted on our suggestions.
However, in an earlier statement, I warned that if the situation hadn’t worsened but restrictions in Tendring also hadn’t eased to Tier 1 by 16th December, then I would withdraw my support the tier system. Even with this encouraging news today, that is the situation that now presents itself to us. Therefore, as the powers that enable the tier system will expire at the end of January, I put on record that it would not be my intention to support their renewal, unless Tendring enters Tier 1 restrictions before that vote takes place. This is, of course, dependent on the R number staying below 1.
To get into Tier 1 our infection rate must remain low, so we must continue doing what we have done throughout the outbreak. We must continue to act responsibly, even during the Christmas and New Year period, and we must remain patient. The vaccine rollout has started, and our careful actions will ensure that the NHS is able to carry out this significant scheme without undue pressure.
I do not believe that it will be long now before some form of widespread normality has returned. But we are not there yet, and now is not the time to put our good work at risk. I hope local residents will remember that in the weeks ahead.