Today, a new national lockdown is back in place.
I’ve had calls in recent days with government ministers and chief scientists and it is clear we are at a critical moment in our fight against coronavirus.
The virus is out of control, more and more people are getting infected and our NHS is under immense pressure.
Regrettably, we need another national lockdown.
The government has lost control of the virus and been too slow at each stage of the pandemic. Ministers should have acted on the scientific advice they had well before Christmas.
Vaccinating Britain has to be our national mission, to get out of the crisis and reopen our economy and schools.
Britain was the first country in the world to get the vaccine, and we should aim to be the first in the world to get vaccinated.
Labour has always said schools must be the last thing to close but it’s now become a necessary step. I’m really frustrated – as so many parents and school staff will be too – that such big decisions have been taken by the government at the last minute.
Ministers now need a plan to ensure pupils don’t fall behind, that working parents and staff are supported, and that schools are reopened safely as soon as possible.
And the government’s economic package needs to match the new restrictions and properly help businesses, workers and self-employed people get through.