Disappointing delay to lifting of coronavirus restrictions - but freedom is in sight
Column by Councillor Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council
If the Government’s ‘roadmap’ had run to plan, our lives would be returning to the most ‘normal’ they have been in well over a year.
So while I’m not surprised that the Prime Minister is being cautious with infection rates from the Delta variant taking hold, it’s disappointing that the easing of restrictions has been delayed.
In particular, the strain will be felt on our businesses, especially those in the hospitality sector who need to trade freely and see more footfall without customers being restricted.
As a council, we moved to help businesses cope with lockdown through four different funding schemes earlier this year which had a great response. In total we allocated nearly £12 million to support businesses in this way.
But what businesses need is more people through their doors and many businesses who have suffered during lockdowns were looking forward to restrictions ending to recover from significant hardship.
The good news is though that in Lincolnshire, hospitalisations are very low and the vast majority of the vulnerable are now protected.
Some events are still going ahead with testing and limited numbers, and I’m pleased that wedding celebrations can now go ahead with more than 30 people, with venues given their own capacity limits.
I’m hoping that with sustained effort for a few more weeks, and even more people becoming fully vaccinated, we will regain those freedoms we are all so keen to get back to.
None of us want to see any further lockdowns or restrictions being re-imposed and the clear benefits of the vaccine programme are now showing as although infection rates have been rising, thankfully hospitalisations and deaths remain low.
The delay will allow all adults to be offered at least one dose of a vaccination by next month, countering the threat of the Delta variant and ensuring that as many people as possible are protected before we move to step 4 of the Government’s ‘roadmap’.
Therefore, it’s so important that all age groups take up the vaccine when it is offered – and that we get both doses to be as protected as possible.
And while we can see that the vaccines are working, no vaccine is 100 per cent effective, so we must keep remembering the basics of washing our hands, keeping a distance, covering our faces when necessary and ensuring fresh air circulates, to reduce the spread of the infection.