A BARNSLEY MP has called on the government to stop extending coronavirus restrictions after stating that ‘Covid is no longer a substantial threat’.
Miriam Cates, Conservative MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, last week spoke in a Parliament debate for extending coronavirus restrictions - and she urged the government to balance the short and long-term interests of the country.
The former science teacher wants the government to now use wisdom rather than ‘the science’ in a bid to regain ‘that sense of balance’.
She said: “Following the science is an attractive and even comforting idea in a time of uncertainty.
“But - I say this as a scientist - we can no more follow science than we can follow history.
“Science gives us knowledge and understanding, but it cannot give us wisdom, and it is wisdom that we need to make what are essentially moral and political decisions about how we balance the short and long-term best interests of our whole society.
“I am saddened that we have lost - hope only temporarily - that sense of balance.
“Preventing death from Covid seems to have become the principal purpose of our national endeavour, no matter the cost to our way of life.”
Barnsley’s current coronavirus rate is 69.3 per 100,000 residents and 171 people have tested positive over the last seven days.
There are also currently only three residents in Barnsley Hospital with coronavirus - none of which are on ventilation - and Miriam stated that the virus should no longer be seen as a ‘substantial threat’.
“We have placed insufficient emphasis on the terrible long-term consequences of lockdown - poverty, unemployment, lost education, debt, undiagnosed cancer, loneliness, hopelessness and fear - and focused far too narrowly on just one set of metrics - the daily Covid data,” she added.
“Even the most hardened libertarian would accept that, in a national emergency and in the face of significant threat to life, restrictions on our freedoms have been necessary and right, but with all vulnerable people having now been offered vaccination, the balance of risk has shifted.
“Covid is no longer a substantial threat.
“The average Covid mortality so far in June is seven deaths a day - seven out of around 1,500 daily deaths that we could expect in normal times.”
The town’s vaccination rollout is in full swing with more than 80 per cent of the adult population receiving at least their first dose of the vaccine, and almost 60 per cent are now fully vaccinated against the virus.
It is for this reason that Ms Cates wants the restrictions - which she believes are ‘out of proportion to the threat’ - to not be extended or a ‘dangerous precedent’ will be set.
“Thanks to the incredible efficacy of our vaccination programme, it is hard to comprehend how our hospitals could quickly become overwhelmed,” she said.
“The idea that we are still in a state of emergency is not supported by the evidence, yet significant legal restrictions on our basic freedoms are to remain, even dictating how many of our family and friends can visit us in our private homes.
“The restrictions we face are now out of proportion to the threat, so extending the measures sets a dangerous precedent.
“Vaccines will never be 100 per cent effective, just like seatbelts, smoke alarms or contraception, but it is vital to our autonomy and our identity as human beings that we are able to make our own choices and evaluations of everyday risks, as has been the norm in our country for generations.
“We must learn to live with Covid in the way that we live with so many other risks.”