East Anglian MPs welcome PM's roadmap out of lockdown
- Credit: House of Commons
MPs in Suffolk and Essex say they support prime minister Boris Johnson's decision to ease coronavirus restrictions slowly - but say they hope normal will return faster than planned.
Clacton MP Giles Watling has even dared to hope that his constituency's "sunshine coast" could enjoy an bumper summer if more people are able to take holidays after lockdown.
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt was one of 63 Conservatives who signed a letter published by the Covid Recovery Group calling on restrictions to be eased after the end of April - when most vulnerable people should have had at least their first vaccine.
He said he agonised before signing it - but did not feel that should be regarded as a firm deadline.
He said: "It is a realistic hope if everything continues to go as well, as it is with the vaccines. I don't think it should be regarded as a fixed date whatever happens.
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"I support the prime minister's wish to be guided by the data, not the dates - but if the data shows the number of hospital cases and deaths are very low, then we could start to reopen hospitality in May."
Mr Watling was hopeful that the summer of 2021 could be good for the tourism business in Clacton and Frinton, as people look to get away for a holiday but find it difficult to travel abroad.
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He said: "I certainly support the approach the prime minister is taking.
"A few months ago I wanted us to go into Tier 2. I was wrong about that - but I hope we can now look forward to a cautious, but steady easing of restrictions.
"I've already spoken to Tendring council and to businesses in the constituency to try to ensure that they're ready to take advantage of what could be a very good summer for them.
"There are good opportunities for tourism here - and it's only 70 miles from London for a day out!"
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter also welcomed the prime minister's plans - although he did have some concerns about opening all secondary schools up to all students straight away.
He said: "The evidence is that primary school children do not spread the virus very easily, but it can be spread by secondary school pupils even if they don't have serious symptoms themselves.
"It might have been better to just have exam years in at first - but I accept there is a trade-off between educational needs and the threat of spreading the virus.
"But I hope this is something the government will keep an eye on."