This third lockdown is tough on us all. It is necessary because of the enormous pressure on the NHS, with more patients in hospitals than in the spring, a record number of COVID cases and a very high death toll. It comes after ten months of restrictions and is a huge setback for Ryedale’s businesses and fantastic hospitality sector which has already been through incredibly tough and challenging times. It also means our children are being kept home from school, which none of us want. The Chancellor has stepped in again with a generous £4.6 billion package of support with a grant of up to £9000 for businesses forced to close along with existing monthly grants.
However, this lockdown is different from the others, because there is a clear roadmap out of the crisis in the shape of two vaccine programmes – Pfizer and the Oxford Astra-Zeneca – which are being rolled out across North Yorkshire.
More than one-third of the 50,000 over 80s have already been vaccinated across North Yorkshire and I have been assured that they should all have received the vaccine within 2-3 weeks. Thereafter the NHS will continue to plan and deliver mass vaccination programmes across the county in line with national targets. There are currently 12 vaccination sites already in operation, including some in Ryedale with more to follow.
This is fantastic news. The Prime Minister has said that he hopes that sufficient numbers will have been vaccinated by February half term to consider enabling children to go back to school and re-opening the economy by returning to the Tier system. If we all pull together, I very much hope (and will certainly push) for Ryedale to go back into Tier 2.
The next few months are hugely important and I would ask constituents not to contact their GPs to inquire about when you will be vaccinated. They are working through methodically and will come to you soon. I’ve just been to the Pickering surgery where 6 vaccinators are very efficiently doing 60/hr with absolutely no queues. Next week we get supplies of the Oxford vaccine which will be made available to local surgeries as the temperature condition requirements are much easier to handle. I’d also urge you once more to keep to the restrictions by staying at home unless it is for one of the legal reasons, which include work, shopping, exercise (locally), childcare, volunteering or a health-related reason. We are in this crisis together and so let’s get out of it together.