Black Country MPs back lockdown until March if cases don't fall

MPs say the national lockdown should last until March if Covid infection rates remain high.

Lockdown was described as being the "only option" to tackle the pandemic, as MPs stressed it must be done right to avoid a "cycle of lockdowns".

On January 6, Parliament voted to lockdown England for a third time – up until March 31 if needed.

But with cases only marginally falling across the Black Country, the region’s MPs are reluctant to see lockdown relaxed any time soon.

Stuart Anderson, the Conservative’s Wolverhampton South West MP, said: "If the rates showed we needed to be in lockdown by March, I would support that.

“Nobody wants to be in a lockdown. But I don’t want to be in a cycle of lockdowns.”

Wolverhampton currently has the fifth highest infection rate in the country, while Sandwell is third.

Mr Anderson said the city would be at the "back end of the queue" for lockdown easing if that trend continued, and would be placed in the "highest tier" after lockdown.

Dudley South and Tory MP Mike Wood said: "We want lockdown to finish a lot sooner than March. The problem we have got is that infection numbers are very high, pressures on our hospitals are enormous. That is why these measures need to stay in place. By the end of February, I am hoping we see the numbers are right down, and we can start looking to ease restrictions, rather than extend them.

"If the question was, do you extend restrictions, or do you have a situation where seriously ill patients are being turned away from hospitals because there is no space, then I think I think the answer is you have to have the restrictions.

"But, at the moment, I am not expecting it to be needed beyond March, and as I say, I want them to finish before that."

Nicola Richards, the Tory MP for West Bromwich East, said: “I still think it is our only option. Hospitals are under pressure.

“Hopefully, this is the last hurdle now, the last time we have to go through this awful situation.”

Labour's Wolverhampton South East MP, Pat McFadden, said: "The very high infection rights that we see locally show that, unfortunately, we need these measures.

"Looking back on the last year, one of the mistakes we made was optimism bias.

"By that, I mean lifting restrictions too early and re-imposing them too late, when infections rose.

"In the last few days, death rates have been over 1,000 a day. If we have got death rates like that in the coming weeks, of course we have got to keep the measures."

Valerie Vaz, Labour's Walsall South MP, said: "Deaths from Covid-19 in the UK are approaching 100,000 rapidly, are the highest in Europe and as a result the NHS is under unprecedented stress. This is not the moment to relax the lockdown but a time to support our exhausted NHS staff by making sure we do the right things."

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