Julian Knight's Westminster Diary, 14/05/20

Solihull Observer

On Sunday, the Prime Minister set out the Government’s road map for how the country can start to return to normal life after Covid-19.

This was followed up by a 50-page document, ‘Our Plan to Rebuild’, which went into more detail. You can easily find this online.

What Boris Johnson set out was not a big list of new freedoms. Our priority must remain protecting the public and the NHS by keeping the virus’s reproductive rate (‘R rate’) under control.

But he did explain how he, the Cabinet, and their scientific advisers would be assessing the risks involved every step of the way, offering hope to individuals and some clarity for businesses as we prepare to take the next steps together.

Of course, there were some welcome new freedoms. For example, we are now allowed outside for unlimited exercise, and can stop to relax in the sun too. Some outdoor pursuits have are now permitted, and you can go out and play football and similar sports with members of your household.

Most welcome of all, we’re now allowed to meet individuals from outside our own homes, so long as we do it outside and respect social distancing. I know that this will be a great comfort to many people who have been struggling with the social consequences of lockdown.

I’m proud of the way we have knuckled down to the recent changes. The overwhelming majority of us have stayed at home and respected and rules, and hundreds of thousands more have stepped up to help by registering with the NHS’s ‘GoodSAM’ app or volunteering in their local community.

But the full lockdown could never be a long-term strategy. The economic and social costs are too high. Its purpose was always to arrest the spread of Covid-19 to buy us time to find a more sustainable way forward.

Since the outbreak of the crisis, we have hugely expanded the NHS’s capacity to treat patients, and our ability to test and track the virus grows by the day. That’s why the Government is now able to look at easing restrictions.

All this is only possible because we followed the rules, and we must continue to do so.