Decision to ditch Covid restrictions on July 19 slammed by Portsmouth council leader
THE CITY leader has slammed government’s decision to proceed with a full easing of lockdown next week, claiming ‘people will die.’
Portsmouth City Council leader. Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said it is a ‘huge mistake’ to ditch restrictions on July 19 as cases locally are ‘going through the roof.’
It comes as prime minister Boris Johnson today confirmed the so-called ‘freedom day’ would go ahead as planned, with the use of face masks recommended rather than voluntary and venues such as nightclubs allowed to operate as normal.
Following the announcement, Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘Infection rates are going through the roof in Portsmouth and the number of people admitted to QA Hospital with Covid has tripled in the last week - it’s only up to 35, which isn’t a high number but it’s a huge growth.
‘The government has done the exact opposite of what they said they were going to do. They became a prisoner to the dates.’
According to government data, there were 493 new Covid cases recorded in Portsmouth in the seven days from July 1.
‘I think they are making a huge mistake, I just worry that being doubly vaccinated doesn’t protect everybody and not everybody is vaccinated yet,’ Cllr Vernon-Jackson added.
‘With a complete opening we are going to end up back in lockdown again. Lessons haven’t been learnt from the last times and people will die because of that.
‘I think they should have kept some restrictions, like wearing the masks in enclosed spaces and keeping bars to table service only at least.’
During his speech Boris Johnson said we cannot ‘revert instantly’ on July 19 to life before Covid.
Helen Atkinson, the city’s public health boss, encouraged people to be cautious going forward.
She said: ‘As per the advice we've given when rules have relaxed previously, it's down to individuals to decide what they’re comfortable with.
‘Even though face coverings and social distancing are no longer mandatory it doesn’t mean you can't still practise these and you might prefer to in certain situations, for example indoors with lots of people you don’t know. I'll still be exercising a level of caution and would recommend that others do, especially if they've yet to have both doses of the vaccine.’
The prime minister also urged clubs and venues to consider the use of Covid passports as a means of entry from July 19.