By Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns
In the East Riding of Yorkshire, where I live, we entered the lockdown on 5th November in Tier 2. We will leave the lockdown next week in Tier 3. This is despite falling rates of infections which were happening before the Government decided to lockdown down the country for a second time. If you try and look for logic in the Government’s decision making process, you won’t find it.
I can travel from my home to Stratford-upon-Avon, over 150 miles away, and never leave a Tier 3 area. I can drive from my home to Lancaster, a journey of 140 miles, and also never leave a Tier 3 area. Millions of people are affected by decisions which resemble the Partition of India.
The Government is effectively killing the hospitality industry. Pubs and restaurants in Tier 3 areas which rely on the pre-Christmas trade to get them through the rest of the year will have been closed since 5th November. Many will never reopen again.
Those pubs which do not serve food in Tier 2 areas are banned from opening. Many of those will never reopen again. But even those pubs which do serve food are not going to see a rush of customers through their doors. If you live in a Tier 2 area you cannot have a meal and a drink with anyone outside your household bubble. Ministers appear to be so out of touch that they don’t realise that people want to meet friends and family outside their bubbles. It’s what makes life worth living, especially at Christmas. And pubs and restaurants have done everything they can to make their premises Covid safe. Pubs and restaurants are safe places to meet - much safer than people meeting in homes, yet they are being beaten across the head with the bluntest of instruments.
Conservative MP for Shipley and Freedom Association Management Committee Member, Philip Davies, told the Telegraph and Argus, his local newspaper, that being in Tier 3 is “desperate for the local economy, particularly for the hospitality industry, it is absolutely catastrophic.” He went on to say that his “heart goes out to the businesses and the people working for them. It’s desperate for them. This will absolutely be the final straw for many of them. It is an absolute scandal. It is not going to be a happy Christmas for all those businesses that have been destroyed and for the people losing their jobs.”
I have said this before and I will say it again: the Government has to rethink its strategy. Protect the vulnerable if they want to shield, but they shouldn’t be forced to do so. Loneliness is a killer and many older people have had very little social interaction for the past eight months. But younger people need social interaction, too. The number of people suffering from depression is skyrocketing.
When the economy tanks, human misery follows. Businesses close, millions of people face unemployment, and hundreds of thousands of people may lose their home. The economy puts a roof over your head, puts food on the table, and clothes you and your children. We cannot go through more months of this misery. The human and economic costs are too great. The cure is worse than the disease.