Today I have spoken to local organisations, my colleagues in parliament and East Sussex’s Director of Public Health to get as full a picture as possible of this serious situation. I continue to raise questions about our local resilience and the support being made available and will have further such meetings tomorrow.
I have been told that Eastbourne and Willingdon remains an area of low infections although cases and it seems, community transmission is now starting to rise. It also remains the case that this virus disproportionately attacks the older generation and we have a concentration of senior citizens here in Eastbourne who must be protected.
However, there is no doubt a further lockdown in Eastbourne and Willingdon will be an economic catastrophe for our key sectors of tourism and hospitality. Christmas and its run-up is a major time of the year for our town and I am really just heartbroken that businesses who have done so much to become covid secure and recover from the previous lockdown, look set to experience yet further setbacks. More jobs and businesses are on the line - even with generous government support - and that is a big worry.
There are simply no easy answers here. The threat of the virus is very real but the ‘cure’ is its own agony, for people’s livelihoods, not to mention the strain on mental health and the loneliness that will prevail through November.
But hospital treatments and operations for seriously ill residents with conditions, like cancer, will be on the line if NHS capacity is taken out to treat Covid patients. If this were to happen, and that’s the present trajectory, it could trigger its own death toll and heartbreak too.
Beyond the move to lockdown this week, I am also raising questions about the exit strategy.
There may be a vaccine in the New Year but we cannot pin our hopes on it and it’s clear it will only help, not be the silver bullet to neutralise this awful virus. We have to learn to live with Covid and bear down on test and trace – that seems to be the only way to know and then effectively counter a rise in infections and it can be used hyper-locally - something I have pressed for the Prime Minister to look at.