Mayor of Hackney responds to Prime Minister's roadmap announcement
Responding to the Prime Minister's roadmap out of the current coronavirus lockdown restrictions, Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville said:
I know that after a tough year of grief, sacrifice and huge challenges, people in our borough will be relieved to see some light at the end of the tunnel from the Prime Minister yesterday.
It is a far clearer and more comprehensive roadmap than we have seen during previous stages of the pandemic, including the four tests and five-week review periods between steps.
Although it’s welcome news that deaths and cases continue to go down in Hackney, it’s right that we are slow and cautious in easing restrictions – and prioritising the return to school for children and young people who are missing out on so much.
Teachers, school staff, parents, carers and volunteers have worked incredibly hard under the toughest circumstances over the last year to ensure schools are safe places for children and staff, and we’re working closely with them and our Public Health team to get ready to welcome more pupils and staff safely back next month, with regular testing.
Coronavirus has had a huge impact on education – exposing entrenched inequality and an often wide digital divide. That’s why a return to school is so important, and why in the next two weeks, ministers will need to be clear and transparent, publishing the data behind their decisions. As a Council we will continue to work with our schools to safely reopen.
It’s crucial that the Government works more closely with councils, schools and trade unions to ensure that everyone has confidence in a safe full return to classrooms. This may include looking again at vaccinations for key staff, and staged returns for some schools in line with national guidance and local risk assessments.
Now we have clarity from the Government on the next steps, it’s vital that the Chancellor backs this up next week with extended support for those needing to self-isolate, and for businesses and the economy – especially the extension of the business rates holiday and a package for the self-employed.
Tens of thousands of residents have now been vaccinated in Hackney, and more are receiving the jab every day. With the weather warming up and a clearer idea of when we can see our loved ones and friends again, there’s plenty to be positive about.
But as we take our foot very steadily off the brake pedal, I’d urge everyone to remember that the rules haven’t changed yet, and it’s essential to continue to follow them at every stage so we can get back to some kind of normality as soon as possible.
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney