Last week the new tier system was introduced putting Devon in Tier 2. In my view that was a mistake. Teignbridge has one of the lowest infection rates in the country. Even Plymouth, Exeter, and Torbay, while higher, are well below the national average. In Tier 2 while retailers, beauty salons, gyms and more can open, for some the additional restrictions such as serving a full main meal in a pub mean opening is impossible.
Though some help has been forthcoming from Government more is needed if these businesses are to survive. While this is to be reviewed on the 16th December, I am not hopeful of any change. Of even more concern to me was the Government’s decision to make the social restrictions stricter still, prohibiting any visitors into people’s homes. For the many who have already lived on their own for weeks, this is bad news.
I know that some have been confused by the Christmas Covid-19 rules. Between 23 - 27th December you can form a ‘Christmas bubble’ composed of people from no more than three households. You can only be in one Christmas bubble that cannot change over this period. You can meet with this Christmas Bubble in private homes/gardens, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces. The Support Bubble (for example if you are an adult living alone) that has been allowed throughout the Covid-19 restrictions is not impacted by the Christmas Bubble. You can find more information about this on the gov.uk website.
That the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved its first Covid-19 vaccine is a huge step in the right direction. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is a welcome sign of us eventually getting back to normal. The UK has 40 million doses ordered for delivery over the coming months, enough to vaccinate up to a third of our population. The UK has also ordered 100 million doses of a vaccine being made by the University of Oxford and AstraZenica. The MHRA is expected to approve this vaccine in the next few weeks.
This announcement approving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA. They have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness. The speed of this vaccine production is thanks to the incredible dedication of scientists, scientific development, and the large amounts of money that the Government has channelled into finding a vaccine.
Having worked with the MHRA, I am confident that they would not approve this vaccine if they did not know it to be safe after rigorous testing. Indeed, the EU apply the same standards and could if they wished simply accept the MHRA decision. I look forward to getting vaccinated when my turn comes. This will become rather like the flu vaccine, an annual event for all of those who are vulnerable.
In other news, the deadline for the United Kingdom and the European Union to sign a trade deal is fast approaching. I am hopeful that a deal will be agreed but remain positive that the United Kingdom would also find opportunity under a no “trade” deal scenario. I am confident that we will prosper as an independent, sovereign nation come what may. We will have control once again over our borders, our laws, and seas.
This week is ‘make your mind up week’ for Europe, and for Parliament as we debate once again the Internal Markets Bill, necessary to create the new internal trade market across our four nations. A new tax bill will also be brought forward, as we leave EU taxes, like VAT in its current form behind us.
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