SUNDERLAND is a city divided over Kier Starmer’s full-scale national ‘circuit break’ lockdown to try to halt Covid-19.
For Wearsiders, the lockdown rules have already had a profound impact on businesses and families, particularly with current lockdown restrictions preventing the mixing of households.
However, due to the increase of national Covid cases, the Government may introduce stricter measures.
People in Sunderland appear torn between supporting Kier Starmer’s call for a full-scale lockdown to stop the spread of the virus, and saving the economy.
Some insist it is necessary to bring the R rate down, others fear it would damage the local economy or that it isn’t essential.
The leader of the opposition proposed a national two to three-week circuit break over the half term. This would include a national lockdown, allowing only essential work and travel. Schools, however, would remain open.
Sunderland’s coronavirus cases have now exceeded 5,000, and 345 deaths were registered by October 2 – but locals have mixed views about the circuit break.
Some believe this is a necessity to reduce the R rates and to save lives, especially given the high rates in the area.
Juliet Cooper, a 22-year-old retail worker from Pallion, said: “I think that another, stricter lockdown needs to be in force to try and put a stop to this and end it sooner.
“It impacted my work, as I was furloughed for there months, the longest time I haven’t worked in my adult life.
“We just need to see what the impact over Christmas will be, it feels like we are going into the unknown.”
Anthony Henderson, from High Barnes, said: “Yeah. They’re going to have to get rid of this.
“Luckily, I work in the automobile trade and that’s been booming really, but my wife works in retail and it’s affecting there.”
Gary Humble, an assistant analyst from Roker, said: “I think it’s necessary. I think the way it’s spreading, from the data that we know.
“I think a two-week lockdown would do it, but then it would just start again. I think we would have to have a two-week lockdown every few weeks”
Other locals agree with the lockdown, but don’t think it will make a difference if the schools are open.
Connor Swinhoe, a 22-year-old retail worker, said: “If that’s the case, it probably wouldn’t be worth the financial loss.”
Others, such as Alfredo Romaro, are against the proposal, and believe the impact on families and businesses has already been devastating to the local community.
“It is a good thing in one way but in another way it’s not,” he said. “It’s going to create a lot of shops closing and a lot of people out of work.
“My wife is from the Philippines and we can’t travel abroad because you have to self-isolate for two weeks and I cannot because of my job.
“I’m contracted by Sunderland Council and I actually work looking after the containers at Sunderland Hospital for the dead. It saddens you, the amount of people coming in and out.”
Others fear the impact lockdown is having on mental health, and don’t believe further restrictions will reduce the number of cases.
Gordon Wilkinson, a pensioner from Seaburn, said: “I don’t think it’ll help, to be quite honest. All the lockdowns that we’ve had hasn’t worked.”
His wife, Brenda, said: “My husband was in for over three months because he’s got COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder), so he was told that he had to stay in. It did affect his mental health badly, and his physical ability.
“Between mental health and staying in to avoid getting the virus, we didn’t know which was the best of the two.
“We’ve had quite a few friends who’ve died, not from Covid, but we haven’t been able to attend their funeral. In fact, the first online funeral we went to was for a friend of mine.”
Keir Starmer says the circuit break will have to come with support to local economies, in an attempt to save jobs and provide support to businesses that will have to close if the new restrictions are implemented.
The Labour Party has in the past supported the virus-tackling strategies of the Tory Government, but is now insisting on stricter measures.