It has been difficult to do any media interviews in the last week or so without being asked about that party/parties/non-party/event and no I wasn’t there even if there was a ‘there’ to be at. For the record my response is on my Facebook page and yes, I would like to see some fines or sackings if the event actually was an event.
Moving on, the real damage is of course to people’s confidence that the public health advice being articulated by ministers really is important and that there really is not ‘one rule for them and another for the rest of us despite the antics of a small number of unhelpful individuals. On Tuesday we had an opportunity to debate and vote on the latest regulations being brought in to respond to the Omicron variant. As I have said right from the start of lockdown restrictions any restrictions on our daily lives need to be well evidenced and based on good science, consider the impact in the round not just on Covid numbers and are seen by people as logical and proportionate. Without the latter no amount of rules will entice people to follow them and so they become ineffective.
On the move to expand mask use I am quite relaxed and never really gave up wearing masks on public transport and in busy shops. Indeed, many constituents have written, especially if they have vulnerable conditions, to say they would feel safer coming out if more people wore masks so it is a consideration thing whatever you think about their effectiveness. I cannot however vote for anything resembling vaccine passports and my concern is that what starts off relatively minimal suffers from ‘mission creep’ and we get towards the complete overaction in Austria and potentially other European countries where vaccination is becoming compulsory.
I think that is fundamentally wrong and medical procedures should be a matter of choice not compulsion, however much I want everyone to get vaccinated and I am very happy to have had my booster last week. Early indications are that the Omicron variant is more catchable but less damaging so should we really be edging back perilously toward lockdown every time a new version comes along when we were just starting to live with Covid on a risk management rather than risk elimination basis? Remember we are only on Omicron, what happens when pi, rho and sigma turn up?
Huge congratulations to the Light up Shoreham team. The lantern illuminations surrounding St Mary’s Church were simply stunning and if you weren’t feeling at all Christmassy before Friday evening then you certainly would have been turned by the buzz, the great selection of stalls, the festive smells and a good few glasses of mulled wine knocked back by some of Santa’s little helpers! More of this please.