Constituency matters… a weekly column by the Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe, Damian Collins

On Monday this week I was in the chamber of the House of Commons to hear the Prime Minister announce that the national covid lockdown will end on 2nd December to be replaced with a tiered system. This is obviously very good news, and this easing of the restrictions is a result of the success of the national lockdown so far. On average across the country infections rates from covid have started to fall again because of the sacrifices made by all who have kept to the rules.

The new tiering system will, as before, be based on three levels, with the with highest restrictions being in tier 3 and the lowest in tier 1. However, even in tier 3, people will have greater freedoms than they currently have under the national lockdown.

For example, non-essential retail shops can re-open, as well as hairdressers, nail salons and all high street personal care services. Outdoor sports will resume, including tennis and golf, and gyms and other leisure facilities will re-open. I have been lobbying the government, along with former Premier League football and now commentator, Robbie Savage for the return of outdoor grassroots team sports, particularly for young people.

These are so important for the physical and mental health of the millions of people of all ages who take part in them, and I’m really pleased that they will be able to return from 3rd December. This week I also signed and supported a letter from fellow MPs calling for the return of religious services and these can now take place, even in tier 3 areas, as well as weddings.

The question we are now waiting to be answered, is which tier we will be in, here in the Folkestone and Hythe district.

On Monday in parliament I made the point to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, that the covid conditions in different areas of large counties can vary greatly.

In Kent, for example, there are some of the lowest infection rates in the country, particularly in the south of the county, whereas in the Thames Estuary and along the north Kent coast, there are some of the highest rates. The tiering system needs to reflect these differences, and he assured me that the government was prepared to consider having different tiers within the same council areas where appropriate.

We have also had the excellent news this week of the success of the Oxford vaccine in its trials.

In tests 70% of people who received it avoided any covid infection, and amongst those who did, they only had mild symptoms that did not require treatment in hospital. This vaccine is much cheaper than the American vaccines that have also passed their trials, and the government has secured 100million doses of it for use by the NHS. This is a great breakthrough that will benefit our country and the whole world.

By Ed

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