PM’s roadmap & SOMERSET LABOUR’s Response

Yesterday (22 February) the prime Minister announced a roadmap to take the country out of lockdown. In essence it comprises the following discreet steps:

  •  From 8 March all children and students will return to face to face education in schools and college. Some (whatever that means) university students on practical courses will be able to return to face to face learning
  • From 29 March, the week in which most schools will break up for Easter. Outdoor gatherings of either 6 people or 2 households will be allowed, providing greater flexibility for families to see each other. This includes in private gardens. Outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts, will be allowed to reopen, and people can take part in formally organised outdoor sports. At this point, the Stay at Home order will end, although many lockdown restrictions will remain.
  • No earlier than 12 April: Non-essential retail, personal care premises, such as hairdressers and nail salons, and public buildings, such as libraries and community centres, will reopen. Most outdoor attractions and settings, including zoos, and theme parks, will also reopen. Indoor leisure facilities, such as gyms and swimming pools, will also reopen. Hospitality venues can serve people outdoors only. There will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcohol, and no curfew – although customers must order, eat and drink while seated. Self-contained accommodation, such as holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen.
  • No earlier than 17 May: Outdoors, most social contact rules will be lifted – although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal. Outdoor performances such as outdoor cinemas, outdoor theatres and outdoor cinemas can reopen.. Indoors, the rule of 6 or 2 households will apply – although we will keep under review whether it is safe to increase this. Indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will also reopen.
  • No earlier than 21 June: It is hoped all legal limits on social contact can be removed.

This is a summary of what the prime Minister said. It is caveated that each step is dependent on no adverse changes in infection rates. That the vaccination programme continues to be successful and vaccines are shown to be effective.

In response, today Somerset labour issued the following statement:

Responding to Boris Johnson’s COVID-19 Roadmap announcement, Somerton and Frome Constituency Labour Party Chair Sean Dromgoole said:

Labour are delighted to see circumstances rapidly improving. This is of course largely due to the wonderful job that the NHS are doing rolling out the vaccines. If you want a job doing properly avoid the private sector seems to be the lesson. Heroic work from some very tired souls in the NHS. The next profession to take the strain will be that of teachers.

I was recently talking to a local headmaster who said ‘if nothing else this pandemic has reminded parents that teaching children is a skilled profession’. True as that may be, it must be a matter of great regret that school staff weren’t vaccinated during half term. The Government has again wasted a valuable opportunity. Teachers should now get fast tracked vaccinations in order to ensure that the reopening of our schools is as safe as possible.

The other gaping hole in provision is making sure that those who need support to self-isolate can access it. Many people across Somerset and the rest of the UK are still not self-isolating because they can’t afford to not work. It is easy to judge someone in that position, it would have been even easier to make sure it never needed to happen.

That’s why Labour have been calling for the Test and Trace Support Payment to be expanded to those who don’t have a workplace sick pay scheme. Remember this is the scheme that was paying some of its consultants more than £7,000 a day! Doing this will provide vital support for the thousands of people suffering financial hardship and insecurity in these challenging times and help to ensure that after a year and more than £12 billion Test and Trace is finally effective.”

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