Devon remains in the lowest level of restrictions as we continue to do our bit to protect ourselves and loved ones. We must remain vigilant to keep the virus at bay but take comfort that with a dedicated Nightingale Hospital on our doorstep, we are fully prepared for the future.
Nationally, coronavirus cases have continued to rise, and so too regrettably have the number of people in hospital. We’re not immune from seeing a similar trend in our corner of England, but I’m confident we can contain the recent outbreak in the Exeter University campus and Pennsylvania.
In Parliament, there have been extremely politicised calls for yet another full national lockdown. Labour want to close all non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants, and gyms; order people to stay at home; and shut schools. Such a move simply isn’t necessary in the South West and I would vote against any push by Labour to force a national lockdown. This would divide the country, harm our economy and punish people across the South West.
After speaking with publicans and restaurant owners across East Devon, I couldn’t support the new restrictions on their businesses, including the 10pm curfew. That’s why I didn’t vote for these restrictions in Parliament. I don’t see the benefit of the curfew and believe it is unproven and unnecessary. For many of our pubs, the curfew has limited the number of dinner sittings they can host which makes it much harder to make ends meet.
Last week, I spoke in Parliament about the need to support to Premiership Rugby. As it stands, you can go to the cinema or support Exmouth Town FC, but not Exeter Chiefs too. The Chiefs do so much for the area from its academy to various community projects. It also employs a large number of people and attracts thousands of people each week, all of whom spend money in Devon. I will continue to press the government to give them urgent financial support while games are behind closed doors.
Let’s hope for success for the Chiefs in the Premiership final on 24th October.