The Government has been criticised for ‘lumping’ all of Devon into a Tier 2 lockdown as Teignbridge had the lowest infection rate of COVID-19 in the country in the week before the restrictions eased.
Newton Abbot MP, Anne Marie Morris, who voted against the Government’s tiered system last week, called the restrictions as ‘cruelly misjudged’.
She said: “Since the first lockdown, I have ardently lobbied against further strict restrictions. Alongside the impact of COVID-19 itself, these restrictions will have further long-lasting and wide-ranging impacts on both the economy and non-COVID-19 physical and mental health outcomes.”
The MP added: “It goes without saying that this has been an incredibly tough and tiring year for us all, in varying degrees. Many of us feel misled by prior optimism that suggested that lockdowns would be easing in December and now find ourselves separated from our loved ones once more.”
The leader of Teignbridge District Council, Cllr Alan Connett, welcomed the news of the low infection rate but urged against ‘complacency’.
The impact on the businesses in the district, however, has been considerable, with a number of high street shops closing their doors permanently, as with the rest of the county. Anne Marie Morris stressed the importance of getting to the high streets as the restrictions eased. She said: “As we exit ‘lockdown 2’ and enter the tiered system, I would encourage everybody, if possible, to support our local high streets and shops.”
CENTRAL DEVON MP Mel Stride has also spoken about Devon as a whole being put into this category and has sought more information about why Devon has been designated as a ‘Tier 2’ authority and how the county may be able to move down to Tier 1.
During discussions with Number 10 on Friday, 27th November, the MP said he understood that the Government wanted to be cautious and to avoid a third spike of COVID-19 infections, particularly when a vaccine is within touching distance, but that he was concerned about the impact on businesses and the continued curbs on seeing friends and family when infection rates within his constituency are relatively low. He asked for more information on how Devon compares with the five metrics that the Government is considering when assessing which tier an area goes into before a key vote in the House of Commons.
Mr Stride said: “I fully appreciate the Government has very tough decisions to make about restrictions over the next six weeks when the virus has ideal conditions for spreading. With the important R Number estimated to be 0.88, it clearly wouldn’t take much to tip this over 1 at which point infections start expanding again. However, I am concerned about the impact of Tier 2 status on our hospitality sector and am keen that Devon has a clear road map to Tier 1 if infection rates continue to fall.”
As Chair of the influential House of Commons Treasury Select Committee Mr Stride has repeatedly called for the views of economists to be considered alongside doctors and scientists when making decisions about future lockdowns and restrictions.