At every stage of the pandemic, the UK Government have engaged with the devolved Administrations, metro mayors and local councils. Local resilience forums are at the frontline of providing the response to tackling covid-19, and the Government will continue to engage with local authorities to beat the virus.
With covid cases in York now well below the level they were when the city went into tier 2, can the Minister reassure me that the Government are listening closely to the feedback and case numbers they are receiving from the city authorities, and that York’s restrictions from 2 December will be based on the local virus situation and local judgments, not based on decisions imposed by central Government or on wider regional figures?
First of all, let me acknowledge the immense sacrifices that people in York and elsewhere around the country are making, and what people are having to endure. As the Prime Minister has made clear, the current restrictions will end on 2 December, and we will then return to a local and tiered approach. The Government will work with my hon. Friend and other local leaders in the area to determine the most appropriate response. We will be tailoring any tiers that people have to go into, as we have done previously, depending on what is needed locally.
Will my right hon. Friend join me in commending the strong local agency working and local resilience forums, such as our own in Hampshire? Will the Government commit to working with local areas to really understand the pressures that, sadly, will persist even after this time? I am thinking in particular of areas such as children’s services.
I am very pleased to join my right hon. Friend in sending thanks to Hampshire LRF and all the LRFs around the country, which are doing an incredible job in such difficult circumstances. We very much understand that they are in the frontline of this fight, and communications with them and with local authorities are vital. That is why we put in liaison officers at the early stage of the crisis. We know and understand very well the additional pressures that they are under, particularly, as he says, with regard to children’s services, and children going into care or being in care for prolonged periods because of pressures on the family courts.
Will my right hon. Friend let us know what Government discussions are taking place about an exit strategy for lockdown, so that local businesses such as pubs and close contact businesses such as Skinderella in Broxtowe can plan ahead?
I thank my hon. Friend for the work that he has done in recent weeks to stand up for individuals and businesses in his constituency. The Government do listen to all representations that are made, as we have seen in recent weeks—for example, over takeaway beer, which was a suggestion as to how pubs and related businesses could help themselves throughout this period. The Government are always keen to hear ideas from business and hon. Members about how we can best ensure that our economy comes through this strongly. We will continue to listen to all representations made as we leave the current restrictions on 2 December and return to the tiered system.