MPs in West Yorkshire have reacted to the news that Kirklees, Bradford and Calderdale will fall under new restrictions to try to halt the sharp spike in coronavirus cases.
From Tuesday next week, people across the three areas will be banned from mixing with anyone outside their household or support bubble in private homes and gardens.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said the restrictions would “make everyday life harder for many” but that they were necessary to reduce the rates of transmission, which have been spiking across Yorkshire.
Barry Sheerman, the Labour MP for Huddersfield, said he believed the new rules would soon be superseded by a national lockdown.
“I get the feeling anyway that this is going to be superseded by a national lockdown,” he told YorkshireLive. “I think there is a serious situation developing and there will be more national restrictions.”
He said he was “tentative at first” about the new rules but felt they were a “good format”.
“Matt Hancock said all this is data-driven. If it’s driven by the data- fine. Because at the end of the day all of us want to save lives,” he said.
He added that “no one is going to like” the new restrictions, especially given that Christmas is not far away.
“People are very concerned.
“But most of the constituents I talk to…at the end of the day they just want us to take the right decisions and protect people and save lives.”
“They hate it when there’s confusion and they don’t know what’s in and what’s out. They prefer things to be clear. They prefer having a national set of measures that everyone understands, like the Rule of Six, whereas if you’re in a situation where you can’t go to soft play in Huddersfield but you can in Halifax…they don’t like that sort of thing.”
He added: “People are not going to be very happy if they are very restricted but people are… gathering in the pub. Getting that balance right is important.”
Jason McCartney, the MP for Colne Valley, said he was “disappointed” his area was going back into local restrictions, but he added: “The data shows an increase in cases across Kirklees and none of us want a full lockdown.”
And Bradford South MP Judith Cummins said: “The secretary of state has today announced that the whole of the Bradford district is now back under local restrictions which prevents socialising in homes and gardens.
“This is no change for my constituency of Bradford South which has been under these restrictions for over a month. I urge people to follow these rules as well as the wider public health guidelines including on mask-wearing in enclosed spaces. I have said all along that these decisions must be made on the basis of the data and scientific evidence.”
Meanwhile Philip Davies, the Tory MP for Shipley, accused the government of a “power grab” and said the country and public needed to “get a grip of themselves” because more people were dying of flu and pneumonia.
Labour MP Tracy Brabin urged people in her constituency of Batley and Spen to “pull together to fend off this terrible virus once again” and criticised the government for failing to establish a “comprehensive” testing system.
“In order to defeat this virus, we need a comprehensive testing system and effective track and trace – which we have been promised repeatedly,” she said.
“After months and months, the government has proved itself incapable of delivering on its word. Meaning that while the people of Batley and Spen follow the regulations in place, the government fail to live up to their side of the bargain.”
She also claimed there was a lack of transparency leading up to the decision, saying she was informed about the restrictions through the BBC and not via official communication channels – which she branded “ridiculous”.
“Stories of confusion over who should be tested, local people unable to get a test, or being sent tens of miles from home are now commonplace, it’s completely unacceptable and we deserve better,” she said.
“The failures of government have become deeply worrying and dangerous. The government knew that reopening schools meant that we would need an increase in capacity, and it strikes me as incompetence that this didn’t happen.”
Calder Valley Tory MP Craig Whittaker tweeted: “Due to a large rise in cases across our Valley, local restrictions are back in force from Tuesday 22nd September. This is regrettable after such great progress but necessary to protect us all.”
MPs in North Yorkshire are also on alert after Scarborough and Selby was placed on the government’s watchlist.
The North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum said people in the towns must make a “mammoth effort” if they wish to be spared from the restrictions imposed on West Yorkshire.
Chairman Richard Flinton said: “Despite our efforts we have two areas now designated of concern due to the continued and growing infection rates there.
“I do not believe for one minute anyone wants the sort of restrictions we are seeing in other areas of the country, but only the personal choices everyone makes, every day, can turn the tide.
“If there is not a mammoth effort by everyone to be extra vigilant and to stick rigidly to the guidance, we have serious concerns that it will cost us all dearly and the way we go about our daily lives will inevitably be impacted further.”