Member of Parliament for the Cities of London & Westminster, Nickie Aiken, gave the following speech this evening during MP’s debate of new tier-based COVID restrictions.
Now is not the time to turn our backs on what we have achieved in this country.
We have sacrificed far too much. We have lost too many lives. We have lost too many jobs and too many businesses to change track now.
The Government’s objective has always been to save as many lives as possible and to protect the NHS, and there is now light at the end of a very, very dark tunnel.
The vaccine is on its way. Testing is improving all the time. I personally, for one, believe that we cannot turn our backs on that strategy.
In a constituency like mine, Cities of London and Westminster, we have paid a huge economic price as well as the public health one. I fear for the future of many hospitality businesses, in particular, who have paid so much to make their premises COVID-secure. If there is anything I would ask those on the Treasury Bench to do, moving forward as we look to these tiers, it is to consider allowing people from different households to eat inside with the rule of six, because restaurants have spent a fortune making their premises so safe, and it is so unfair to make them move outside like this.
The R rate is coming down. The second lockdown did work to bring the R rate down, but it just suppresses the virus. We are not beating it, and we will not until we get a vaccine.
If you give this virus an inch, it takes a mile.
We have seen this across Europe. We have seen it in France, which has just come out of a lockdown, but its restaurants and bars are staying closed until January. It is the same in Germany. Spain and Italy are now looking at restrictions. South Korea, the exemplar of how to deal with a pandemic, is now bringing in new restrictions as the infection rate increases when it opens up its karaoke bars and nightclubs.
So, we cannot let go now: we have to keep on going. There is that light at the end of the tunnel.
I welcome the extra financial support for pubs that was announced today.
I certainly welcome the 10 pm curfew ending. The Secretary of State knows my views on that.
I welcome the fact that shops can now open for longer, but why not on a Sunday? Why is it just Monday to Saturday? People want to shop on a Sunday too. I have been supporting The Sun newspaper’s campaign on that, and I ask for further consideration on it.
We are almost there, and we just have to have that final push so that we can get our lives back to normal and send this virus packing.
You can also watch Nickie’s speech in full above.