Tuesday 15 December 2020 / 1:05 PM Keir Starmer

Starmer demands urgent review of Christmas Covid rules

Starmer demands urgent review of Christmas Covid rules

 

Labour leader Keir Starmer has called on the Prime Minister to convene an emergency COBRA meeting to review the current relaxation of restrictions over Christmas, following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

 

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Keir Starmer said: “It has become increasingly clear over recent days that the tier system you introduced two weeks ago has failed to control transmission of Covid-19. Sadly, it does now appear that the Government has – once again – lost control of infections, putting our economy and our NHS at grave risk in the new year.”

 

He adds: “I understand that people want to spend time with their families after this awful year, but the situation has clearly taken a turn for the worse since the decision about Christmas was taken. It serves no-one for politicians to ignore this fact.

 

“It is my view that you should now convene COBRA in the next 24 hours to review whether the current relaxation is appropriate given the rising number of cases.”

 

The Labour leader has pledged to support the Government if it concludes that tougher restrictions will be needed to save lives, protect the NHS and secure the economy from another national lockdown.

 

He says: “If you conclude with Government scientists that we need to take tougher action to keep people safe over Christmas, then you will have my support.”

 

Warning that short-term indecision could cause long-term damage to our NHS and economy, Starmer says: “This is a critical moment for our country. The tiered system has not kept the virus under control and has left us with precious little headroom. Put simply, if you take the wrong decision now, the ramifications for our NHS and our economy in the new year could be severe.”

 

Ends

 

Notes to Editors

 

Full text of the letter

 

Dear Prime Minister,

 

Urgent review of the Covid Christmas restrictions

 

It has become increasingly clear over recent days that the tier system you introduced two weeks ago has failed to control transmission of Covid-19. Sadly, it does now appear that the Government has – once again – lost control of infections, putting our economy and our NHS at grave risk in the new year.

 

This will be a source of great anxiety for people across the country, who have made so many sacrifices to keep families, loved ones and communities safe.  The fantastic work of scientists and others in developing a vaccine has been a tremendous achievement for our country and allowed us to all feel hopeful again. But we have been brought back down to earth with a thud as the grim possibility of an increasingly bleak winter comes into view.

 

I welcomed the fact that the Government had sought a four-nation approach on the arrangements over the Christmas period. I understand that people want to spend time with their families after this awful year, but the situation has clearly taken a turn for the worse since the decision about Christmas was taken. It serves no-one for politicians to ignore this fact.

 

It is my view that you should now convene COBRA in the next 24 hours to review whether the current relaxation is appropriate given the rising number of cases. If you conclude with Government scientists that we need to take tougher action to keep people safe over Christmas, then you will have my support.

 

Any further tightening of restrictions will obviously be deeply disappointing to many across the country. Many will have already started planning for Christmas and would have held on to the prospect of a happy day with family and loved ones to get us through these tough months. But the public do not want false reassurance, warm words or ducked challenges from their Prime Minister. They want leadership.

 

This is a critical moment for our country. The tiered system has not kept the virus under control and has left us with precious little headroom. Put simply, if you take the wrong decision now, the ramifications for our NHS and our economy in the new year could be severe.

 

Our country has already seen one of the worst excess death rates in Europe and the worst recession of any major economy. This was not inevitable, but a failure to take the tough decisions at the right time. The Government was too slow at the start of the pandemic and in September, when it was clear we needed a circuit break over half-term, you chose to ignore the scientific advice and delayed the inevitable until November.

 

I am urging you to not repeat that same mistake now. Your priority should be a safe Christmas, which allows a healthy and prosperous new year.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Keir Starmer

Leader of the Labour Party