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Ashford MP Damian Green says local lockdown would be 'catastrophic'

A localised lockdown would be "catastrophic" according to an MP urging caution this weekend.

Ashford has almost double the Kent average Covid-19 infection rate, with its 716.3 infections per 100,000 making it the second worst-hit local authority.

Damian Green believes people should be individually responsible in their actions to avoid an extended lockdown
Damian Green believes people should be individually responsible in their actions to avoid an extended lockdown

Prime Minister Boris Johnson specifically mentioned the borough in an interview earlier, in which he named nationwide hotspots.

During the same call, he noted discussions with Leicester political leaders - an area with an increasing surge in infections which has prompted a lockdown extension.

When asked whether Ashford could be likely to experience a localised extension, its MP Damian Green asked residents to be extra careful, especially in the face of pubs and restaurants re-opening this weekend.

He said: "If we don't want to face that - and it would be catastrophic - everyone needs to behave sensibly.

"Even rather small groups of people of people meeting up can spread the virus so it is everyone's individual responsibility to observe the current social distancing guidelines."

Ashford's Sports Direct proved a particular hit on the first day of shops reopening, with a long queue forming before opening until late in the evening.
Ashford's Sports Direct proved a particular hit on the first day of shops reopening, with a long queue forming before opening until late in the evening.

Despite Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggesting a "local lockdown" would mean businesses, schools and workplaces being closed down, no one knows exactly how one would work.

Mr Green said: "If it's just a business or factory you're locking down, then it's relatively easy.

"I can't see how you can have an area lockdown - would that include the whole borough or just the urban areas?

"There are all these questions that are very difficult to answer, for example might we see roadblocks, rail travel stopped?

"If we look at the practicalities of these, it would be very difficult to foresee how widely they'd be implemented."

New signs have gone up in the town centre
New signs have gone up in the town centre

The MP of 23 years was, however, positive about the lockdown easing that will be experienced nationwide this weekend, with the relaunch of pubs and hairdressers on Saturday at the forefront of many people's minds.

He said: "I've tested out shopping and I'll be testing a pub this weekend, but we all need to be sensible.

"Don't treat it as an excuse for some of what we've seen in terms of people behaving at their worst - if we abuse it we might lose it.

"Again, this is a chance for everyone to show we can get out, spend money and do everything we've wanted for months."

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