Sir John Hayes MP (South Holland and the Deepings), Gareth Davies MP (Grantham and Stamford), and I met with the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, the day before the 1 December vote on the new regime of public health restrictions as we move out of the second lockdown.
We are all profoundly disappointed to find that Lincolnshire has been placed in Tier 3 by the Government. Throughout the weekend before, Sir John, Gareth, and I were engaged in discussions with the Chief Whip, the wider Whips Office, the Chancellor of the Dutchy of Lancaster, the Department for Health and Social Care, and the Prime Minister to outline our strong disagreement with the assigned tier for our county.
On 29 November Sir John and Gareth wrote formally to the Prime Minister to urge the Government to review their decision and to look at a much more targeted, localised approach. We believe the arbitrary county-wide approach announced last week does not adequately take into account the actual patterns of travel and consequent interactions of our residents. The day before the vote we met with the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, to discuss this further.
We made clear to the Health Secretary that we cannot accept this unreasonable decision to move areas such as ours into the highest tier when Peterborough, Norfolk, and Rutland are in Tier 2. West Lindsey has a lower rate of infection that some London boroughs that are in Tier 2. We laid out the case on behalf of our constituents and our many pubs, restaurants, and cafes. We made clear that we require a written, binding commitment that the tier for Lincolnshire, and specifically for our local areas, will be reviewed with a view to reducing our tier to level 2, on or by 16 December 2020.
The vote on Tuesday 1 December enables the country to move from a strategy of national lockdown to a tier system which as a broad approach we support because even at Tier 3 it allows for most of our businesses, gyms, and sports to reopen – this is preferable to a stricter national lockdown. Clearly we need to ensure that such a localised approach is accurate and matches the specific rate, the declining nature of the rate, and the natural movement of our residents
In addition, the vote guarantees a five-day easement of restrictions for the Christmas period to enable families to meet and enjoy the festivities. We of course want to support these measures but we stress that it is vital that our current tier level is re-assessed with a view to moving it down within two weeks.