Ipswich MP: 'We need a strategy for living with Covid not restrictions'

Tom Hunt said he supported the Lords amendment in principle, but could not vote for it because of th

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt says he would be reluctant to vote for more Covid restrictions - Credit: House of Commons

Speculation is mounting over plans for increased restrictions as Covid rates soar but Ipswich MP Tom Hunt says there needs to be "strong justification" before lockdown measures are reintroduced.

He has also called for financial support for hospitality businesses in the town being hard-hit by cancellations and no-shows from customers as concern grows over the Omicron variant.

Mr Hunt said: "I think it's fair to say that I would be extremely reluctant to support any further restrictions. There would have to be a strong justification for what they are proposing for the area that I represent."

His comments came after Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said his colleagues expect to be recalled to Parliament to push through changes before the New Year.

Mr Hunt last week voted against the government's Plan B measure for vaccine passports for larger venues and nightclubs, later saying he feared it could lead to "creep in restrictions".

He said on Monday that, if further restrictions were proposed, he would have to look at what was presented to Parliament, and would want to see "good-quality modelling and data".

He has also backed a plea from Ipswich Central for more help for hard-hit businesses, and is contacting the Treasury and Downing Street to outline the concerns from the town. 

Mr Hunt said: "I am very concerned about the impact that the last few weeks have had on many businesses in the town.

"It's not been so much the restrictions that are currently in place, but it's more about the rhetoric around them."

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He said there had been a lot of no-shows at local businesses. "I was in one hospitality business in Ipswich, and it was explained to me that in the last couple of weeks they have had about 80 cancellations, which is about 10 months' rent."

And he said he wanted to see the government provide support to hospitality businesses in the short term to help them with this loss of trade.

"I think we should look to step in. I do not want to see highly-valued pubs and restaurants in the town going out of business, and jobs being lost."

However, the MP  stressed he wanted to see an end to the "stop-start" rollout of restrictions. 

"I don't think it is sustainable for this to continue indefinitely. We need to have a strategy for living with Covid."

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