Sunderland MP slams ‘reckless’ Prime Minister over Freedom Day
MP Bridget Phillipson says that July 19 is an ‘arbitrary’ date to ease Covid restrictions and that the North East needs to be ‘especially careful’.
Monday, July 19, often called Freedom Day, has been confirmed by the Government as the day when most remaining lockdown restrictions in England are lifted, although Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned “this pandemic is not over”.
Among the rule changes is that face coverings will no longer be a legal requirement, however, some shops and transport, including the Tyne and Wear Metro, will still require them.
The new rules come as cases are rising and experts say that hospital admissions nationally could be up to 2,000 per day in August.
Ms Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, says Mr Johnson has been reckless and that the new rules are confusing.
She told the Echo: “We all want restrictions to ease and for life to go back to normal. But we all just need to continue to be cautious, because case rates in our area are high – and continuing to rise.
“I think the Prime Minister has displayed recklessness in seeking to ease everything at once and there’s been some confusion about what’s expected of people.
“That’s disappointing because I know how hard people have worked over the last year too – to follow the rules.
“I do think in the North East we need to be especially careful, given the high rates of infection we’re seeing.
“Throughout the pandemic the Government should have been guided by the data, by the science and by the advice they’re receiving; rather than set arbitrary dates and raise people’s expectations – which they’ve had to dash on a number of occasions.
“It’s not always been clear what the Government’s justification around certain dates have been and I think confusion has crept in around what’s expected of us; particularly when it comes to the use of masks in indoor spaces.”
“So it’s right that we do start to reopen, but we’re not out of the woods yet.
Ms Phillipson is also urging anyone who is yet to be vaccinated to have the jab at the earliest opportunity.