Yorkshire MP urges Matt Hancock to ease 'draconian' restriction measures in wake of Covid-19 vaccine
Mr Hancock has warned people to “not blow it” and urged them to keep following the Covid-19 rules during the vaccine rollout when he spoke today (Dec 8) in the Commons.
Mr Hancock said: “While the vaccine rolls out, the best way to get any area down through the tiers is to continue to follow the restrictions that are, unfortunately, still absolutely necessary to keep people safe. Having said that, because we have a vaccine, the faster we can roll it out, the sooner we can get to the point where we get rid of the system altogether.”
But he added: “We’ve got to temper our joy and enthusiasm at today’s announcement with the need to keep each other safe between now and then. Let’s not blow it since we can see the answer is on the horizon.”
But Conservative MP and chairman of the new Covid Recovery Group Mark Harper said it is “not right” to maintain every restriction until the entire population has been vaccinated.
Mr Harper said: “Given that I think (Mr Hancock) was right to be a little cautious about the speed that we’re going to be able to get this vaccine rolled out, it seems to be not right that we should keep every single restriction in place until we’ve rolled out the vaccine to the entire population.
“It still remains the onus is on the Government to justify every restriction and the balance between the benefit to reducing Covid, the economic impact and the non-Covid health arm.”
Mr Hancock replied: “He and I want to lift the restrictions as soon as is safely possible and the question of that judgment of how safely is one that we will have to monitor and debate in this House over the coming weeks and months.”
A number of Yorkshire MPs also petitioned the Health Secretary for vaccination centres in their areas, including Tory MP for Scunthorpe Holly Mumby-Croft, and Labour MP for Bradford West Naz Shah.
Ms Shah said the criteria for where would receive the vaccine first meant “the fact that places such as Bradford West and inner cities have nine years’ less life expectancy and 16 years’ more ill-health means that the three centres that have been set up are in affluent areas”.
She said: “Not a single one is in inner-city Bradford, yet the Government’s own review accepts that Covid disproportionately affects black and minority ethnic communities. When will the Government stop discriminating against those who live in inner-city areas, and prioritise them because of their health risks?”
But Mr Hancock replied: “The roll-out of the vaccine is being managed by the NHS, and it is entirely unfair of [Ms Shah] to describe the NHS in that way.”