Shutting down society 'is not a solution' to coronavirus - Telford MP

"Shutting down society again is not a solution" according to a county MP who says society-wide lockdowns cannot continue indefinitely.

Telford MP Lucy Allan has said that society-wide lockdowns cannot continue indefinitely
Telford MP Lucy Allan has said that society-wide lockdowns cannot continue indefinitely

Lucy Allan MP for Telford said the Government should look at a "smarter more flexible approach" to tackling the virus, using lessons learned since March.

She said that the impact of lockdown had seen "a very significant impact on people’s health, lives and livelihoods".

Her comments come as the Government's chief medical advisor and chief scientific officer held a joint press conference to warn that without action the country could see 50,000 positive cases a day by mid October.

Ahead of the Government debating the Coronavirus Act on September 30, Ms Allan said that there had been "mission creep" over the restrictions in place.

She said: "It is clear that we are in a very different place to where we were in March. We know considerably more about the coronavirus now – how it is spread, who is most at risk, and a wider picture of the number of people infected due to the creation of a testing system, which despite its flaws, has greater capacity than systems used by our European neighbours.

"That said, the evidence is clear that cases are continuing to rise in the UK and elsewhere. The fear is that we are on the cusp of a second wave. The Government rightly wants to prevent all avoidable deaths and will take the necessary measures to do so. Those most at risk – the elderly and those with underlying health conditions – must be proactively defended from the disease.

"But what we have now is mission creep. The stated aim of the Government’s lockdown measures were to prevent intensive care units from being overwhelmed. This did not happen. Indeed, the NHS Nightingale hospitals, which were established in a matter of days at the peak of the crisis, were barely used and subsequently mothballed. Private hospitals were sequestered and remain unused. This goes to show that we averted the worst-case scenarios that were predicted earlier in the year."

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Ms Allan said that there should be an "aggressive focus" on protecting the vulnerable, while avoiding a shut-down of society.

She said: "Lockdowns are a blunt tool to be used in extremis. Shutting down society has a very significant impact on people’s health, lives and livelihoods.

"The personal cost to individuals, as well as to business and the taxpayer has been huge. People were dying alone, we could not say goodbye to loved ones, we could not access healthcare, education or the emotional support of family and friends.

"I am grateful for the steps taken by the Chancellor to protect livelihoods, but it is clear that society-wide lockdowns cannot continue indefinitely. A lockdown is not a cure, it defers infection to a later date, and with it comes significant harms that we are just waking to.

"As we see an increase in infections, we must be confident the data decision makers rely upon is robust and capable of challenge and scrutiny. Decisions should be made based on all the available evidence, not just the worst case scenario predictions.

"To save lives we must consider a smarter and more flexible approach to tackling coronavirus, built on the lessons we have learnt since March. We need an aggressive focus on protecting those most at risk and a strategy to enable us all to live with coronavirus. Shutting down society again is not a solution."

Civil liberties

Shrewsbury & Atcham MP, Daniel Kawczynski said people had been raising concerns over civil liberties with him.

He said: "What I found on Saturday is the number of people in Shrewsbury coming up to me saying "this is it, we have had enough, we need to start challenging the prime minister about our civil liberties, the economy and the sustainability of the sheer amount of money we are spending."

Mr Kawczynski said he would question the need for more stringent lockdown measures, with infection rates comparatively low in Shropshire.

He said: "It is also a question of the rights of the individual and whether or not the state can trust people – if this is the beginning of a move to a nanny state with more power taken from the individual."

Mr Kawczynski said the Government should think carefully before imposing more restrictions on family members seeing each other – particularly around grandparents at Christmas.

He said: "Those that talk about restricting families getting together, I think the Government is verging into very dangerous territory and I am not sure they will be able to take the public with them."

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