Government Business 27.04

Government Business 27.04

Lockdowns show lack of empathy for the north

It has been two weeks since more than four million people in the North of England awoke to news that new restrictions had been imposed upon them overnight, following spikes in coronavirus cases.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s 10pm brainwave tweet to announce lockdowns was rightly met with widespread derision.

As we go to print, Oldham has become the latest region on the brink of local lockdown after the town’s seven-day infection rate overtook the ones in Blackburn with Darwen and Leicester.

Surely more needs to be done to understand why England’s worst-affected areas are largely concentrated in the north of the country - Manchester, Rochdale, Tameside, Pendle, Middlesbrough. These areas of high infection are generally areas of high deprivation, and instead of blaming those flouting social distancing, which is another argument for another time, government action is needed to ensure that the marginalised and vulnerable get the support they need.

The recent decision to strengthen regional contact tracing, whilst overdue, will not solve the issue on its own. Blaming those who choose to work rather than self isolate only highlights the lack of empathy Westminster has for our northern communities.

Michael Lyons, editor