Suffolk MPs don't rule out further restrictions as infection rates soar
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Suffolk MPs are bracing themselves for more restrictions - and possibly a new national lockdown - but say the Tier 4 restrictions brought in on Boxing Day still need time to work.
And Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said he could not foresee what further restrictions could be introduced in a bid to reduce social mixing.
Mr Hunt said he did expect those areas of the country currently operating under Tier 3 restrictions to be brought in line with the 78% of the population who were already living under Tier 4 restrictions - which would effectively reintroduce November's national lockdown.
He said: "So far as we are concerned, we have to see what effect the Tier 4 restrictions have. They were only introduced on Boxing Day and we are still waiting to see the effect of the household mixing on Christmas Day come through.
"I'm not sure what other restrictions could come in. You could try to restrict outdoor exercise to an hour again - but to be honest I don't think many people want to exercise outdoor for more than an hour in this weather anyway."
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Mr Hunt supported South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge's call for school staff to be given priority for vaccinations: "I know there are a lot of people who meet the public who feel they should be a priority - but I do feel teachers and school staff should be considered as a special case because of the importance of educating our young people."
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said he still felt restrictions would have to be in place for some time until a significant number of people had been vaccinated.
And he warned there were concerns about whether vaccines would be as effective as hoped against the South African mutation of the virus.
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He said: "The scientists are pretty confident that the vaccines will work well against the mutation that seems to have started in the south east of England - but there are fears it might need to be tweaked to offer the same protection against the South African strain.
"That could take two or three months - and it may mean people need to get further injections to boost their protection. That is why you have to have separate flu injections every year."
He still believes the current restrictions will need to remain in place until March or April - and it will be six to nine months before enough people are protected to allow life to approach a pre-pandemic normality.
In the meantime people needed to cut down on the number of others that they see as much as possible.
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge said the Prime Minister had made it clear on Sunday that it could be necessary to bring in more restrictions - both extending the Tier 4 area and tightening restrictions in areas covered by that tier.
He said: "I can think of other restrictions but I don't want to speculate on what might happen. What is absolutely clear is that we have to bring the infection numbers down because things are looking very serious in London, that is spreading through Essex and it is now affecting us in Suffolk and we need a huge effort to bear down on that.
"No one likes restrictions. They go against everything I've ever stood for - but we have to get these numbers down."