Thank you to all those who contacted me about the recent government announcement to end all COVID restrictions in the UK, I understand that there are strongly held views on all sides of the debate.
This week, the Prime Minister confirmed the Government’s plans for ‘Living with COVID’, with the end of all restrictions, including the legal duty to self-isolate coming to an end on Thursday, and the end of mass free testing coming into effect in April.
Myself and my Labour colleagues do not want to see restrictions in place for a moment longer than necessary, and while we are sure the British public will continue to be somewhat cautious in terms of minimising the spread of the virus; the end of free testing removes our ability to do so. This change is likely to affect the poorest and most vulnerable in society, including the clinically extremely vulnerable.
Scientific and medical experts have warned about the potential of new variants in the future, and I believe the Government’s plans falls short in protecting us from these possibilities. They have also called for rapid lateral flow tests to be made available to older people, and those with health conditions, to allow family to be tested before visiting.
Instead, beyond social care staff, the government has announced that only those deemed ‘at risk’ from COVID will have access to free tests, and only if they have symptoms. The government’s plan fails to protect those most in need, likely to cause more uncertainty and anxiety instead of giving people more freedom.
In response to the Prime Minister’s statement in the Commons earlier this week, where he stated that 1.3m immunocompromised people have been sent PCR tests, I pointed out that due to delays to test results, many are not receiving antivirals in time. The government and the Prime Minister must do more the protect clinically extremely vulnerable people as restrictions are dropped and I will continue to raise these issues in Parliament.
Thank you once again for contacting me on this issue.