The Government’s Reaction to the COVID Spike

As we have entered into November there has been a national spike in coronavirus cases. In light of this, the UK government has been tightening their COVID precautions within the parliamentary estate. The UK Health Security Agency has determined that following this national spike in COVID-19 cases, that the Palace of Westminster has experienced an inevitable increase in its potential transmission rate.


On Monday, the first of November, daily COVID-19 cases were reported at over 40,000 with 40 deaths being recorded. In direct response to this significant increase in cases, the UK Health Security Agency has advised the cancellation of events within parliament. These include both tours and banquets, viewed as non-parliamentary business, that were schedule for the first fortnight of November.


There is an active encouragement of social distancing again within parliament, with face masks being deemed mandatory for employees and contractors working within the parliamentary estate. As the MPs are not technically employed by the House of Commons, they can not be made to wear face masks, despite them being compulsory for other members of staff. This has naturally raised concerns over their exclusion from this rule due to their position of power and status. As a result of this criticism, many MPs have taken it upon themselves to adhere to this rule. However, many still choose to remain mask free.


The necessity of face to face meetings has also been in question. Over the next two weeks, face to face meetings will be suspended unless they are deemed unavoidable. This includes meetings with attendance that is determined vital to parliamentary business. The multiple measures taken within parliament in November, to reflect the worrying increase in cases across the country, will be reviewed in two weeks time.


In response to the recent, nationwide spike in coronavirus cases and the new rules being implemented within the parliamentary estate, the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, has cautioned us to remember that we are not yet out of the pandemic. It has been easy to feel at ease as the UK has slowly returned to a ‘new normal’ especially as the festive celebrations are beginning to take over British cities. However, Javid has actively encouraged us to remain cautious by reiterating the importance of receiving our booster jabs when we become eligible to do so. This is the direct result of the inevitable new variants that will develop as we move deeper into the winter months.


To many, these recent steps taken by the government have come as a surprise. These new measures, within the parliamentary estate, are not reflected in the government’s approach to the public. Despite the preliminary discussion of a possible ‘Plan B’ which would involve mandatory face masks for the public and encouraging the majority of the nation to work from home, there have been no such measures have been taken.


We will continue to watch the government’s response to these spikes in cases to predict the impact this could have upon the Christmas period of 2021.


Eleanor Wadley

Eleanor Wadley has extensive experience in writing in a wide-range of fields including travel and lifestyle, tourism, educational content for charities. Eleanor kicked off her career with a first class degree in Illustration and Creative and Professional Writing from the University of Worcester.