Shropshire MPs' fears over impact of new lockdown restrictions

Shropshire's MPs have expressed disappointment and concern over the impact of fresh restrictions as England prepares to go back into lockdown this week.

Boris Johnson announced the new lockdown on Saturday
Boris Johnson announced the new lockdown on Saturday

The Prime Minister's announcement means that England will go back into nationwide lockdown – as seen in March – from Thursday, provided MPs back the move in parliament on Wednesday.

The announcement from Boris Johnson came only hours after Telford & Wrekin moved into Tier 2 of the government regulations on Saturday, and means that the expectation Shropshire would join them this week has now been rendered irrelevant.

As a result huge sections of Shropshire's businesses again face shut-down, having only started the recovery from the impact of closure earlier this year.

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Pubs, restaurants, gyms, non-essential shops and places of worship will all have to close, but schools, colleges and universities can stay open.

There will also be question marks over what happens to the county's border communities, with Wales' 'firebreak' lockdown due to end on November 9 – when England will be in the midst of a four week shut-down.

Shropshire's Conservative MPs have backed the Prime Minister's decision, saying the concerns over the NHS being overwhelmed mean lockdown is the only solution.

They have though raised serious concerns about the impact on the county's economy.

There has also been criticism over the government's timing, with the Labour Telford & Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies saying the Prime Minister had delayed too long, and should have listened to scientific advisors and opposition Labour Leader Kier Starmer and taken action earlier.

Shrewsbury MP disappointed

Shrewsbury & Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski said he felt disappointment that the country would be returning to lockdown and was concerned about the impact in the economy.

He said: "The level of infection in Shropshire is much lower than other areas in the country and yet this national lockdown will hurt our local economy terribly.

The daily number of coronavirus deaths at Shropshire hospitals as of October 31. Data: NHS England

"The Government has decided that this is the best way forward at this time and has access to the finest medical minds.

"I will support the Prime Minister and the cabinet, but I'm disappointed it has come to this."

'Must learn to live with virus' - Telford MP

Telford MP Lucy Allan said she understood the decision but added that the country "must learn to live with the virus", and could not continue in a series of lockdowns.

She said: "Another lockdown will have devastating consequences for lives, livelihoods, and the health and wellbeing of so many people.

"We all understand the need to ensure hospitals have capacity for all conditions and this is the driver behind this decision.

"What cannot be a solution is repeated lockdowns punctuated by brief interludes of opening up. We must learn to live with the virus.

"We need to factor in the long term consequences of lockdown on people’s lives. Scientists and medical advisers are focused on reducing Covid cases and Covid deaths, but public health is about much more than Covid and the Government must recognise this."

'We must protect NHS' - Ludlow MP

Ludlow MP, Philip Dunne, said: "The data that became available at the end of last week showed hospital admissions are growing at a pace, which means there is very little choice to avoid the NHS being overwhelmed before Christmas.

"The government needs to do everything it can before Christmas to get the infection rate down.

"This is not so much because of the number of cases or the number of deaths but the impact on the NHS. The government has an absolute priority to protect the health of the nations and therefore had very little choice but to this, however difficult and damaging it will be."

MP for the Wrekin, Mark Pritchard, said: "I am very concerned about the new restrictions' impact on those with other diseases and illnesses and their access to ongoing healthcare.

"There will also be a huge impact on many local businesses. But I am glad the government are extending the furlough scheme again. These are the most challenging of times but fully understand that the local and national NHS cannot be left to be overwhelmed. If ever there was a time to look out for the needs of others, it is now. This is a time for the best examples of community and neighbourliness."

Montgomeryshire MP Craig Williams, said there would have to be discussion over whether Wales continues with a lockdown matching the English decision after its 'Firebreak' lockdown ends.

He said: "Clearly Wales is in its own lockdown, which is continuing until November 9, then the Welsh Government, in line with the UK Government will have to review that."

Mr Williams said it would make sense for the two countries to align their policy because of the financial requirements for support.

He said: "If we are going to have a national lockdown that should be UK wide for the reason that the economic support packages have to come from the UK government because they are so immense and so big only the UK Government can afford them."

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