Mayor of Hackney responds to the extension of lockdown
Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, said: "Yesterday the Prime Minister announced a four-week delay to the lifting of all lockdown restrictions.
"While this news was in the end widely expected, it will have come as a bitter disappointment to many who had been looking forward to returning to a greater degree of normality following the toughest of 15 months: to being able to meet or celebrate occasions in larger groups; and to being able to enjoy all the freedoms that have been necessarily curbed.
"And, it will come as a particular blow to our business community, who have been so badly hit as a result of closures and social distancing.
"That is why we are giving businesses who qualified for our Additional Restrictions Grant a further £1,120 to support them through this extended period - but the Government must also commit to topping-up the Restart Grant for our music venues, bars and nightclubs.
"We are calling on the Government to extend the current support for businesses to cover the extension of lockdown restrictions, and for a new round of business support grants to aid the sectors that cannot open until all social distancing restrictions have been lifted.
"Despite these difficulties and the disappointment that the lockdown extension will cause, I have to say I strongly welcome the decision - because the time is not right to fully end lockdown; the stakes are simply too high.
"Sadly, infection rates are again going up across the borough, London, and the country, as a result of new, more transmissible variants circulating in our communities.
"Indeed, two Covid-19 variants of concern have already impacted our borough, and resulted in a fortnight of intensive, targeted testing in parts of Shoreditch and Dalston recently.
"This extra month of restrictions - with controls on gatherings; with ongoing mask-wearing; and with continued instruction to observe ‘hands, face, space, ventilation’ - will allow us to continue to work together to reduce transmission rates; and crucially allow millions more people across the country to get their first and second vaccination doses, and help prevent serious illness and death. That’s why it’s so important we continue to follow the government guidelines until it’s considered safe to do otherwise - and it may be that we ask people locally to follow these rules even when lifted nationally.
"In Hackney we face our own vaccination challenge: more than 17,000 of our most ‘at-risk’ residents - those over 60 or clinically extremely vulnerable - remain unvaccinated. I have been volunteering with local residents to support the vaccine roll-out with the Volunteer Centre Hackney Vax Pack, and collectively across the Council, community and NHS, we’re doing so much to support them to get vaccinated, including delivering vaccination pop-ups directly into communities. Over the next few weeks we will be doing even more, increasing the involvement of the Council in supporting the programme.
"I still understand why some people may feel nervous about getting their jab. However, we must remember hundreds of millions of people around the world have been safely immunised. And, the data is clear, the majority of people now hospitalised with Covid-19 are unvaccinated. Having both doses of vaccine is your best protection against the virus. Remember you can book your vaccine by calling 119 free of charge. There is also a mass vaccination event taking place on Saturday at the London Stadium, the Olympic Park, in Stratford - please book to visit.
"Another important reason for maintaining the current restrictions is to ensure we all continue to test twice-weekly, even if we are vaccinated or symptom-free. One-in-three people who have Covid-19 will not have any symptoms but still spread Covid-19 to our most vulnerable. Testing regularly, which I do, helps us to avoid, inadvertently, passing on the virus to anyone else in our households, workplaces or communities, and is a key tool in helping keep Hackney safe. We’re very nearly back to a degree of normality, or at least a new normal - there is light at the end of the tunnel - so let’s undertake this final push together in order to beat the hold the virus has on our borough and nation once and for all."