Coronavirus restrictions in NI: People need hope, not ‘fatalist speculation’ says DUP health committee member Jonathan Buckley

People need to be shown that there is “light at the end of the tunnel” when it comes to coronavirus restrictions, a DUP member of the Stormont health committee has said.

By Niall Deeney
Friday, 12th February 2021, 3:57 pm
Jonathan Buckley
Jonathan Buckley

Upper Bann MLA Jonathan Buckley said comments from the Chief Medical Officer earlier this week, warning that coronavirus restrictions may last until next year, will have instilled “hopelessness when we have already endured so much hardship and sacrifice.”

The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, later clarified that restrictions do not necessarily mean lockdown restrictions and could include measures such as a continued requirement to wear face coverings in public places.

Mr Buckley, meanwhile, said he was “dismayed” by Dr McBride’s earlier “fatalist” comments.

“The draconian measures placed upon lives have left people isolated from their friends and family, detached from their community and displaced from many of the things that give their lives purpose,” he said.

“On a weekly basis, I’m hearing of local constituents struggling with unemployment and financial uncertainty, worries over hospital waiting lists and the growing concerns over the state of hopelessness throughout the pandemic.”

He continued: “The whole world over, people relish normality. Of course we all have to play our part in minimising the risk of transmission, but people need hope that better days lie ahead and that this will not last forever.”

He added: “It’s not enough for public representatives to just reinforce life-altering restrictions in an attempt to combat Covid-19.

“We need a roadmap to recovery. We need to show people that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”