I share my constituents’ disappointment at today’s announcement that Oxfordshire will be moving to Tier 4 restrictions on Boxing Day. However, the infection rate in Cherwell is concerning. It is clear that the new variant of the virus which prompted other areas to move to Tier 4 before us can be spread more easily. I suspect it explains why the figures in Cherwell have risen so rapidly despite the recent lockdown. There has also been a significant increase in hospital admissions in our area which is putting a lot of pressure on our local health service.
I know everyone is fed up. I am miserable too. No one could have predicted that we would have to spend most of 2020 facing so many restrictions on our everyday lives, separated from friends and family. I remain extremely concerned about people’s mental wellbeing and the impact of the pandemic on the local economy. Our businesses have faced an extremely challenging year. I would encourage them to get in touch with the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Cherwell District Council who have told me that they are here to help.
At this time of year, I am mindful of the personal sacrifices so many doctors, nurses, and care staff continue to make while looking after others. They may be battle worn but their spirit has not been broken. The dedication and sense of duty shown by all key workers during the pandemic is something we can all learn from.
By taking this action now, I am hopeful we will not be in Tier 4 for long. I continue to receive weekly briefings from our local public health officials and will make it very clear that we need to be in the lowest reasonable tier according to the case rate. Vaccine rollout is well underway in our area, offering a glimmer of hope as we begin 2021. Until then, it is absolutely vital that people follow the guidelines and practice the three simple actions to keep protecting each other: wash hands regularly, wear a face covering in enclosed spaces and stay at least 2 metres apart. We are united in our desire to overcome coronavirus.