Scarborough and MP Robert Goodwill says Covid situation 'like a horse race'

Scarborough and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill has described the situation with Covid in England as being like a “horse race” ahead of next week’s end to pandemic restrictions.

The Conservative MP defended the government’s move to end social distancing measures, warning that failing to do so would be devastating for the economy.

Mr Goodwill was appearing before North Yorkshire County Council’s Scarborough and Whitby Area Committee last week when he was pressed on the decision to proceed to Step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown.

Labour councillor Tony Randerson said that a fellow councillor who’d had both doses of a vaccine had been “laid low” by Covid and said people were concerned that infection rates would “skyrocket” and that the Prime Minister was going against scientific advice.

Scarborough & Whitby MP Robert Goodwill
Scarborough & Whitby MP Robert Goodwill

In response, Mr Goodwill said that hospitalisations were down on previous waves due to the vaccine roll-out.

He said: “In some ways this is a little bit like a horse race where Covid is the front runner and you have got vaccination coming up on the rails.

“I think they delayed the opening of the economy because they were worried that Covid would get too far ahead so vaccination would not catch up.

“I think now we have seen in the most recent figures that the rate of increase is slowing and certainly the level of hospitalisations where we have a similar level of cases is dramatically less.”

Mr Goodwill said that Covid would be something the country would have to learn to live with and that a booster jab for vaccinated people was likely.

He added: “How long can we keep the economy shut down?

“How long can Raw nightclub in Whitby continue [when it is] shut down?

“We have already lost the cricket festival because of the delay.

"At some point we are going to have to make that decision and I think on balance we have chosen the right time but we will keep that under review.”

Cllr Randerson pushed the MP on why the Government seemed to be at odds with its previous statements.

He said: “I totally get what you are saying about the concerns about the economy.

“From a health perspective all through this pandemic Mr Johnson and his ministers have been saying ‘we are following scientific advice’.

“The point I am trying to make is that the scientific advice seems to be contrary to what the government [is doing].

"It seems to be flying in the face of that scientific advice.”

Mr Goodwill said that a range of opinions were considered.

He added: “The media are very keen to find a scientist that doesn’t agree with the others but we take a wide range of scientific advice from SAGE and JCVI [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] so sometimes the media will pick on a scientist who maybe doesn’t agree and SAGE has wide range of different expertise and opinion.

“Also if you said to the doctors ‘can you come up with a plan that will eradicate the disease’ they could but it would also eradicate the British economy.”