After much consideration I’ve decided that I feel unable to support the Plan B covid measures announced last week. Tomorrow I will be voting against the measures.
This is as much to do with the logic and the mindset that drove Plan B as it is to do with the measures themselves. I do not think we should adopt a “just in case” approach to Covid restrictions because if we do, I believe, we will end up introducing restrictions again and again whenever there is a new variant with significant mutations. Just when would it all end?
I also fear that the mindset and logic that led to Plan B could lead to more and more draconian restrictions coming about in future and this isn’t something that I’m prepared to accept without an extremely strong justification. After getting towards two years of Covid restrictions I’m really not sure whether either our society, or economy, can handle it.
I do not believe that at this stage the evidence is there in relation to Omicron to justify plan B. The Omicron variant has been circulating at high levels in South African for around a month (a country with a much lower vaccination rate than our own) and the indications are that it’s milder than any other Covid variant we have seen thus far.
It is often the case as viruses develop they become more transmissible but less deadly. The emergence of the Omicron variant appears to be consistent with this.
I do accept that the 30 or so mutations that Omicron has mean if you’re only doubled jabbed the vaccine is less effective. However, it also seems clear that getting the booster jab ensures that you have solid levels of protection against Omicron. I support the Government’s campaign to offer the booster jab to everyone above the age of 18 this month. I’m currently in the process of arranging my own. The vaccine, as has always been the case, is our best defence.
When the Prime Minister announced the roadmap out of Covid restrictions early this year at the time when we were rolling out the first vaccine jabs I felt the timetable was a little cautious. However I was happy to support it as there was a clear light at the end of the tunnel and there was one direction of travel (however slow). I have not been a frequent rebel on Covid measures, but I now believe we’ve come to the stage where enough is enough. We cannot go on this way for any longer.
The work from home guidance is likely to cost the economy billions over the next couple of months and hurt our hospitality sector as it desperately looks to continue its recovery from the pain its already experienced over the past 20 months or so. Young workers are also having their development stifled as the room for mentoring and relationship building is snuffed out.
Covid-19 has taken a sledgehammer to the mental health of many of my constituents and millions of people of all ages up and down the country. The doom and the fear of looming restrictions in themselves is enough to send millions of our fellow country men and women literally into depression.
The inability to plan, travel, see loved ones and experience all of life’s richness are a few of the many reasons why lockdown restrictions should be ruled out in future.
We can make the case for these sorts of restrictions when we don’t have a vaccine and perhaps for a short time only. Not when we have an effective vaccine and when we’ve already been through the nightmare we’ve been through over the past 20 months. Life is for the living and it’s time to live without fear.
Of course, the views of scientist’s are extremely important. I can assure you over the weekend I’ve spent a lot of time reading their views and the data they produce. However, we need to follow a course that is proportionate and takes into account not just COVID as a public health challenge but also the devastating impact of restrictions of livelihoods and mental health. Also let us not forget how often many of these scientists’ projections have proved so wrong.
I’ve considered all views and canvassed the views of my constituents (clearly there were many different views) but ultimately this is the position I’ve come to. I believe it’s time for a new approach for tackling Covid that shies away from and rules out onerous restrictions. I do not believe that voting through Covid Plan B tomorrow would be the best thing for the country or my constituents. That’s why I’ve taken the difficult decision to vote against the Government tomorrow. Not a decision I take lightly at all.