Hitchin MP Bim Afolami July column: As Covid rules shift from mandatory to common sense I hope we adapt with courtesy and compassion

  Posted: 26.07.21 at 09:26 by Bim Afolami MP for Hitchin and Harpenden

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The past eighteen months have been extremely hard for everyone, with stringent restrictions on our ability to work and socialise in the way we normally would.

We have now moved to Step 4 on the roadmap out of lockdown, which will see a further easing of restrictions.

The emphasis will shift from one of state-legislated, mandatory rules towards one of managed risk, sensible proportional guidance and common sense.

I know that many people are anxious about the lifting of restrictions, with the virus still in circulation and rates of infection increasing rapidly.

The Government continues to work with the SAGE committee experts, taking into consideration the level of risk using rates of infection, hospitalisations and mortality to determine when to make changes to restrictions.

Thanks to our world-leading vaccine rollout, hospitalisations and deaths have been significantly reduced.

Of those admitted to hospital, vaccinated patients are usually released after a few days rather than weeks.

As of the date of the Health Secretary’s statement, 86% of adults have had at least one vaccine, and 64% have had their full course of vaccine defence.

For those people under-40 and yet to have both vaccines, the delay between vaccinations is being reduced from 12 weeks to 8 weeks.

This is fantastic news and will ensure that every adult will have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated by mid-September.

As we move to Step 4, the legal requirement to wear a face covering will end, although masks remain advisable as a voluntary measure in crowded and enclosed spaces.

Families will no longer have to choose who can access their loved ones in care homes as the cap on named care home visitors will be removed.

The two-metre rule will be suspended outside of clinical settings and ports of entry. Classroom bubbles and contact isolation will also be removed allowing pupils, parents and teachers the stability required to support our children through education.

The virus is still in circulation, but it can be managed with minimal restrictions if we observe government guidelines, use informed judgement and take sensible precautions.

That means staying at home when asked to self-isolate, getting fully vaccinated and using simple infection prevention measures.

I sincerely hope that we will adapt to this new phase with respect, courtesy and compassion for each other as we adjust to this new reality.

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