Lincolnshire County Council leaders react to roadmap delay announcement from Boris Johnson
Lincolnshire County Council leaders have reacted to the Government's cautious approach to easing lockdown restrictions.
Councillor Martin Hill, leader of LCC, spoke after the announcement from the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, that there will be a delay in moving to step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown, which will ensure that two thirds of adults would have been offered two vaccine jabs including all vulnerable groups.
Coun Hill said: "While I'm not surprised that the Prime Minister is taking a cautious approach to easing of restrictions with infection rates from the Delta variant taking hold, it's disappointing news for our businesses, particularly the hospitality sector in Lincolnshire, bearing in mind hospitalisations are very low and the vast majority of the vulnerable are now protected."
"That's no comfort to the businesses who've had to suffer from lockdown over the past year but who were beginning to get more people to their doors through the recent period of good weather as people quite rightly look forward to lockdown restrictions ending.
"The hospitality sector in particular need to trade freely and see more footfall without customers being restricted. At least weddings can go ahead with more than 30 people after June 21, with venues given their own capacity limits.
"We moved to help businesses cope with lockdown through our community grant scheme earlier this year which had a great response.
"Of course we don't want to open up and then have to go into reverse and shut things down again.
"None of us want to see any further lockdowns or restrictions being re-imposed. But people have had to endure so much they want to see a return to normality as soon as possible.
"A clear benefit of the vaccine programme is that although infection rates are rising due to people mixing together more freely and the Delta variant taking hold, hospitalisations and deaths remain low.
"In Lincolnshire our rates of infection are still low but are starting to rise as the Delta variant begins to spread from other areas of the country.
"At least the delay will allow all adults to be offered at least one dose of a vaccination by next month.
"This will help to counter the threat of the Delta variant and the increase in infection rate, ensuring that as many people as possible are protected before we move to step 4.
"Vaccines are now being offered to younger age groups under the age of 30 and we'd urge everyone who get offered the vaccine to take it up.
"From today (June 15), the Prime Minister has said 23 to 24-year-olds can start coming forward for jabs. Vaccines work and give you protection against illness from Covid-19 as well as protecting others around you.
"But no vaccine offers 100% protection so please remember the basics – hands, face, space and fresh air are still our first line of defence in the battle against Covid-19."
Andy Fox, LCC director of public health, said he understood people were “fed up” after more than a year of lockdown and delays to freedom, but said this time it was different – allowing more time for vaccinations, rather than just supressing case numbers.
Despite seeing an increase in COVID-19 rates, Lincolnshire remains “still far lower” than other areas of the country with an infection rate of 28.5 per 100,000 population, compared to the England average of 67.1.
Mr Fox said: “It is the right thing to do to delay further loosening of restrictions for a few weeks at this point in order to get more vaccinations, in people’s arms.
“Unfortunately we have seen a sharp rise in cases in some areas of the country associated with this delta area and we do need to react to that.
“It wouldn’t be wise to continue with the relaxation. Hopefully this pause will give us additional time to increase uptake of vaccination especially in some of the younger age ranges, and that will mean that the peak of any wave that is coming will be lower and lives will be saved.”