THE new coronavirus lockdown is “all really frustrating because you could see it happening”.
On Monday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation to announce the changes.
It takes Wokingham borough from Tier 4 restrictions to this new lockdown, which is broadly the same but with one key instruction: to stay at home unless necessary to leave for limited, but specific reasons.
He said that the new strain of coronavirus was thought to 70% more transmittable than the previous strain.
“The government is once again instructing you to stay at home,” he said.
You may only leave home for a number of reasons, including if you cannot work from home, for exercise, and for medical reasons.
Those who are clinically vulnerable will be asked to shield again.
“Since the pandemic began last year the whole United Kingdom has been engaged in a national fight,” he began, saying that progress had been frustrated by the new variant strain of covid, which was putting pressure on hospitals.
For schools, exams will be cancelled and Mr Johnson promised alternative arrangements would be made.
Mr Johnson said that the country’s vaccination programme would continue.
He ended his address in the same way that he ended his announcement of the first lockdown: stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.
Cllr Clive Jones, the deputy leader of the Lib Dems in Wokingham borough said that before Christmas he tried to “push the borough council to do something about schools” before Christmas.
“Now they are closed for six weeks – this could all have been done before Christmas,” he said. “It’s more incompetence from an incompetent government.
“They were too slow to lockdown (in March last year), too slow to get PPE, too slow to start testing and too slow to the second lockdown.”
He also criticised the government’s handling of the NHS.
“They’ve spent £20 billion on the nightingale hospitals, but they’ve known since April that they’ve not had the staff to work in them. What have they done?” he asked.
“They haven’t done enough to be in a position to protect the NHS.”
Cllr Jones felt that while no one wanted to see schools close, it was the right thing to do, but added that people would be “very angry and very upset” about this third lockdown.
And Wokingham Labour leader Cllr Andy Croy said that Monday’s new lockdown announcement by Boris Johnson was “so typical of the mismangement of whole pandemic”.
He said: “The Conservatives have adopted a fingers-crossed approach to the pandemic and yet again we find ourselves presented with a surprised-looking Prime Minister.
“The current situation has been over a month in the making – and it’s not just the new variant. Test, track and trace still does not work.”
Cllr Croy called on the government to offer more support to businesses and people affected financially by the lockdowns.
“His announcement also excluded crucial information about support to businesses, many of which have been inadequately supported to date,” he said, adding that the ban on rent evictions, the mortgage holiday scheme and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme “must also be extended”, while there should be an increase in Statutory Sick pay.
Reading East MP was in favour of the new restrictions.
Matt Rodda said: “The new lockdown is difficult but necessary due to the rising number of cases and the easier spread of the disease caused by the new variant.
“The Government now needs to offer real help to families and businesses and Ministers should make sure that the vaccination programme is rolled out as quickly as possible.
“Our community is facing a difficult few weeks but we are pulling together to get through this challenging Winter.”