Rachel said:

Once again we’re being asked to stay at home to protect our NHS and save lives. I know a lot has already been asked of us, but we must now do all we can to control the spread of this new variant.

“On a briefing call with local NHS bosses last night, it became very clear that a national lockdown was needed in order to prevent our local hospitals from being overwhelmed. Worcestershire’s hospitals are currently treating more COVID patients than the first wave of this pandemic. No one wants to see the Alex overwhelmed, which is why the only option to prevent this is a lockdown.

“The impact of this further lockdown on Redditch’s economy weighs heavily on my mind. This is a tough time for local businesses who employ thousands of my constituents. I’m grateful the furlough scheme, paying 80% of peoples’ wages, remains in place until April. To further support businesses and jobs, the Chancellor has announced £4.6 billion in new lockdown grants. This includes top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the Spring. As you can see, we’re doing everything we can to support businesses and livelihoods at this difficult time.

“The way out of this pandemic is the vaccine. The UK is leading the way in the rollout of the vaccines, with more than one million people having already been vaccinated. The more quickly we vaccinate people, the quicker we can end these restrictions on our lives. Thousands have already been vaccinated in Redditch and Worcestershire thanks to our amazing NHS.

“I know the weeks ahead will be tough, but just like before, I know Redditch will come together in this national effort to tackle COVID-19. Please stay safe everyone and stay at home.”