Ending of of restrictions is 'bittersweet' moment says Preston Council leader
Labour council leader Matthew Brown has today announced that he is pleased to see restrictions lifted from next Monday but said he would support harsher measures in the future if it meant saving people's lives.
There was a cautious tone in Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s message to the public as coronavirus cases soared ahead of “freedom day” on July 19.
Mr Javid told the Commons: “As we make these changes, it is so important that people act with caution and with personal responsibility."
Following on from yesterday’s announcement, July 12, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the green light for Covid restrictions to be lifted from next Monday, council leader Matthew Brown said people in Preston would be pleased but urged caution.
It comes after he criticised the Government’s handling of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns and ‘tier’ systems which disproportionately affected BAME, minority and low-income families.
The Plungington ward councillor also campaigned for the vaccines to be re distributed and prioritised for worse-hit areas by the virus in a letter to previous Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
He told the Post: “I think everyone is pleased that there will be some easing of restrictions because the pandemic has been very difficult for everybody in Preston in terms of people who are no longer with us, but also in terms of people’s mental health and community life.
“There's been a big lesson during Covid that it’s not a great leveller, if you’re less well-off you deal with these things a lot worse than if you’re someone who has a decent amount of income.
“There has been a realisation very late on during the pandemic that we have to support those communities, but it has been too little too late in my opinion.”
People from low-income families, BAME communities, disabled workers and women are amongst those worst hit by the pandemic, having found themselves facing exacerbated health and economic inequalities.
Coun. Brown described this situation as a “double-edged sword.”
Following the final easing of restrictions, on July 19, people will no longer have to abide by any of the previous Covid restrictions that have been in place for more than a year.
But, signalling a more cautious approach to the public, Mr Javid commented that people should continue to wear face coverings in some indoor settings and proceed with caution.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced the legal requirement for face coverings would be scrapped and said it would “depend on the circumstances” whether or not he would continue to wear one.
Whilst Coun. Brown was clear that he “does not want to see” another lockdown or further restrictions imposed in the future, he would support such measures if the “public health evidence is that it would save people's lives.”
The City Council leader went on to urge caution as restrictions ease on July 19 and said that he welcomes vaccine passports in high-risk settings.
He added: “When we do get to the ‘freedom day’, I think for a few days people will think ‘oh finally we’re out of this’, but then there will be a realisation that it’s quite bittersweet.
“(The pandemic) has been a collective trauma and it’s still there to a degree - this isn't going to be over for some time.”
“I urge the people of Preston to build on that spirit of cooperation that really did emerge during the pandemic.”
Whilst he is hoping to “holiday within this country,” more than anything, he expressed a need to “understand what has happened and take a few days off.”
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