Mon, 02 Nov 2020
Newbury MP Laura Farris has said the country has “no choice but to enter a national lockdown”.
Her comments came in Parliament, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged MPs to vote for a four-week lockdown in the House of Commons on Wednesday, November 4, and told them there “is no alternative”.
He hopes the lockdown (due to begin on November 5) will “break the transmission” of Covid-19, save thousands of lives and prevent NHS hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
Ms Farris said: “I understand the data leaves the government with no choice but to enter a national lockdown.
“But given the huge consequences this entails, can my right honourable friend give assurances that the new tools at his disposal, particularly the 15-minute tests, will be sufficiently ubiquitous and effective in the coming weeks to avoid any future national lockdown after November?”
Mr Johnson said: “That is certainly the intention and that is why we are massively ramping up the tests in the way that she describes.”
The roll out of rapid testing, improved therapeutics & the prospect of a vaccine will change the terrain of our fight against the virus next year.— Laura Farris (@Laura__Farris) November 2, 2020
I asked the Prime Minister for assurances today that these tools will avoid future national lockdowns after November. pic.twitter.com/9XDKzrc28a
A number of Conservative backbenchers are reluctant to support another lockdown and the likes of former cabinet minister Esther McVey and Robert Syms have said they will vote against it.
But in a statement on her website, Ms Farris said the first national lockdown was “highly effective” and the country “would soon be overwhelmed” without another.
And while West Berkshire still has a relatively low infection rate, Ms Farris said: “It would be foolish to pretend that we are some kind of island that is going to remain immune.”
In the statement she said: “A further lockdown was not what I wanted, however, I could not, in good conscience, ignore data that risked tens of thousands of lives or ICU beds becoming overwhelmed.
“My immediate priorities will be to establish clear data both locally and nationally on the number of critical beds available and the increase in take-up (including in the Nightingales).
“I will also seek clear and measurable criteria for exiting these measures which I will share with you so that you are able to monitor this for yourselves.”
She added: “What I can tell you is that although the South East and South West have the lowest rates of infection in the country, the rates of infection have been rising exponentially and the rate of increase is now such that – if left unmanaged – we would soon be overwhelmed.
“I am hopeful that the next month’s lockdown will protect primary and secondary care services for other conditions over the winter months and would stress that no one in West Berkshire should put off seeing a doctor for any other condition.
“GPs locally have also emphasised this point.”