Oldham’s council leader and three MPs have welcomed the Government’s decision not to impose a catastrophic lockdown on the borough, but warned that a more collaborative and clearer approach based on evidence rather than politics is needed as we continue to tackle Covid-19.
Cllr Sean Fielding, Angela Rayner MP, Jim McMahon MP and Debbie Abrahams MP released the following statement after the announcement on Friday 21st August that tighter restrictions will be imposed on meetings with people from other households, but that the Government is not at this stage imposing a full lockdown in Oldham:
“The amount of work from council officers, volunteers, public health officials and residents in recent weeks to bring the spike we’ve seen in Oldham under control has been phenomenal. While the hard work doesn’t stop now, it’s encouraging to see case numbers beginning to drop.
“It will be a big relief to residents and businesses across the borough that the Government has followed the evidence this time and chosen not to impose a lockdown. The data to support a lockdown just isn’t there, which is why we’ve been arguing so hard against it.
“Recent weeks have shown how easily cases can rise, particularly in areas where cramped or overcrowded housing makes household transmission so hard to avoid.
“What our experience in Oldham shows is how fundamentally important it is that we finally get the test and trace system right. We’ll only be able to get back to something like normal if we can quickly identify cases and stop the chain of transmission.
“Unfortunately, contact rates from the national test and trace system are still far too low. We need Government to listen to local experts, and give them the resources, the data and the responsibility to take the lead on this.
“Alongside fixing test and trace, it remains vital that residents continue to follow the guidance on social distancing and hygiene, and self-isolate if they need to. Most people and businesses in Oldham are doing exactly the right thing, but it’s something we all have to take very seriously.
“We urge everyone in our community to come together to fight this virus and abide by the restrictions so we can get through this and come out the other side. Government can help a lot by being clear in their communications with people. Too much fragmentation, with rules changing regularly and being applied to small geographies, will only cause confusion.
“We’ve shown in the last few weeks what we can do. If we’re going to build back better, we need Government to trust local people to take the lead. That means not only holding up their end of the bargain on test and trace, but also fulfilling their promise that local authorities wouldn’t be left of our pocket by the pandemic.
“With the necessary resources Oldham has shown the kind of place it can be. Another decade of savage austerity though will make it impossible to fulfil our potential.”