As I explained in this post on Saturday, I deeply regret the imposition of a new lockdown that covers Wiltshire. I accept that infections are rising sharply in the South West and that, on current trends, within weeks our hospitals will be overwhelmed and unable to treat Covid or any other patients. This is the basis of the case for suppression of the virus.
The lockdown will not be as strict as the last one (with schools, thankfully, staying open), and it is intended to last only a month. Nevertheless, I know the impact will be very severe for many businesses which have been struggling to emerge from the last forced closure.
There is still much detail to be worked out for whether and how specific businesses are allowed to operate. However, we know the furlough scheme will be extended to cover the lockdown, and the Chancellor is working on a new package for the self-employed (the last one, while generous overall, was badly targeted, with some people receiving nothing at all while others ended up better off than in pre-Covid times).
I am also very concerned about the impact on people's wellbeing as communal life is once again suspended, and family mixing is restricted. I am particularly distressed that church services, which offer a safe way for people to meet together for spiritual and social solace, will not be running this month.
The restrictions will be voted on in Parliament on Wednesday. Ahead of this, I propose holding two online meetings which any constituent is welcome to attend. The first will focus on businesses impacted by the lockdown - including whether and how you can operate, and what support measures are needed. The second will focus on the restrictions more generally, on the science, the policy-making process, and the effects on liberty, family life, community life and overall wellbeing.
The online meetings will be tomorrow, Tuesday, ahead of the debate on Wednesday. The first meeting, for businesses, will take place at 5pm, and the second, broader meeting about the restrictions will take place at 6pm. They will last an hour each.
If you would like to join these calls please register here and details will be sent to you.