‘Deeply distasteful’ lockdown must end as soon as possible, says MP

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Desmond Swayne
New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne

THE coronavirus lockdown regulations are “deeply distasteful” and should end as soon as possible, according to New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne.

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The sweeping powers, which are unprecedented since wartime, came into force last week and allow police to fine and arrest people refusing to obey the rules. They last for up to six months but could be renewed or ended earlier.

Writing on his website, Sir Desmond said: “I find the powers that we have granted to the authorities in this emergency deeply distasteful.

“They are time limited, and necessary to slow the spread of disease, nevertheless they remain offensive to our sense of liberty. Whilst most of us will shrug and simply get along as best we can, I have a suspicion that some people are rather relishing it.

“I am in receipt of emails from constituents keen to report that their neighbours have driven somewhere to walk, or to walk their dog, rather than confining themselves to their immediate vicinity.”

Bans include gatherings of more than two people, unless they are members of the same household or in other limited circumstances.

Sir Desmond added: “It is important to resist the totalitarian mindset, there is always the danger that it will become habit-forming. This is particularly the case nowadays when technology has given the sate such additional powers to scrutinise our every move.

“For the present we are lawfully confined to our homes with the exception of four limited circumstances, but the authorities must not possess the powers to make such laws for any longer that is absolutely necessary.”

Sir Desmond later wrote about confused residents inundating him with questions about what activities are permitted, as some police forces have been accused of a heavy-handed approach.

“Common sense” advice was that citizens were entitled to use their car and leave their homes as often as they liked, he said, as long as each trip was with “reasonable excuse” under the rules.

However, in the New Forest the authorities have pleaded with people not to drive into the area for exercise or unnecessary activity. Major car parks have been shut and campsites put off limits.

What do you think? Write to the Advertiser and Times letters page via letters@adt.press.

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