On Sunday 20 December 2020 Gosport Borough moved to Tier 4. In the first instance, you can find out more about Tier 4 restrictions here.
I want to make it clear that I entirely understand and share many of the concerns raised by constituents over the last 24 hours. In particular, this latest tier decision is terrible news for local businesses and devastating for those who were looking forward to spending a few days over Christmas with loved ones after a hellish year.
I have spoken direct with advisors in DHSC to query the reasoning for this move and particularly the inconsistency of the local restrictions which put 3/4 of my constituents in Tier 4 and 1/4 in Tier 2. Last night I joined a call with Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary and Jonathan Van-Tam, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, where I made this exact point. This afternoon I will join a call with Michael Gove and will post an update from that if there is more to add.
I must stress that MPs have not been involved in the decision-making process about changing tiers and had no advance notice of the changes. I understand that, on the face of it, the numbers for Gosport, Portsmouth and Havant do not look particularly high compared to say, Kent. However, Local COVID-19 cases are rising worryingly, particularly in the over 60 age group and I understand that instances of the new mutation of the Virus have been identified in our area, it spreads 70% faster than the previous variant.
This week I met with the CEO of the QA Hospital in Portsmouth. QA is facing serious capacity issues, with ICU currently running at around 200%, it was heart-breaking to hear of the high fatigue and low morale of staff in the run-up to Christmas, dealing first-hand with a second wave. I would encourage you to look at the following Twitter profile from a local doctor at the QA for a stark reminder about the situation our local health workers face.
I understand concerns about Fareham and, as I say, I have raised this inconsistency on all of my calls. I have also raised this issue with the Police & Crime commissioner as I believe it could cause difficulties in enforcement. Fareham is currently remaining in Tier 2 because, although case rates are growing, numbers there started at a lower rate than here in Gosport and the age profile is different. However this is being kept under review and, I get the sense that, if anything, it is most likely that Fareham will join the 1/3 of England in Tier 4, rather than the rest of us joining Fareham.
None of us want to be facing these restrictions. Everything about this period is unprecedented and I continue to believe that the politicians, scientists and medical professionals taking these incredibly difficult decisions are doing the best they can, in a rapidly evolving situation, to minimise the loss of life and protect our NHS.
Like everyone else, I am looking forward to a time when we can return to normal life and see our loved ones again.
As ever, my team stand ready to assist in any way we can, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02392 522121.