THE past seven months have been testing for the country, but for us here in Oldham we’ve also had to contend with enhanced restrictions other areas with higher infection rates have not, including our neighbouring areas like Manchester and Rochdale.

These restrictions have added to the difficulty many have faced in trying to function in our everyday lives, while minimising the risk that the virus could be transmitted. For instance, imagine losing a loved one and simply because you live in Oldham, 10 fewer mourners are permitted at a funeral, when over the border Manchester has rates skyrocketing yet the same restriction is not in force.

And imagine the impact of being told you can only use public transport for essential journeys. Well, what about needing to get the bus to tend to the grave of a loved one, or lay flowers to remember them on a birthday.

Restrictions also applied to meeting in any setting, including, and without any evidence base, as with the other measures, meeting extended family and friends in the local park, again as you could do in neighbouring areas.

It is hard not to reflect that at a time Greater Manchester should have spoken with one voice, when the time came Oldham was left standing alone, and there is no doubt in my mind the government capitalised on this.

There are approximately 9,000 people in Oldham who face a cliff edge at the end of the month, as the furlough scheme comes to an end. Despite Oldham being under enhanced restrictions for some months now, our infection rate has increased by 316 per cent, and we are threatened with further restrictions on hospitality venues. And yet the government still intends to allow the furlough scheme to end without a sufficient enough economic package to protect jobs and businesses from the second wave.

There is nothing inevitable about another lockdown. The reason for the first lockdown was to buy time to protect the NHS and prevent it from being overwhelmed. The reason we started coming out of lockdown was because there were supposed to be measures in place to stop this happening again.

Mass testing should have prevented this, a working test and trace system should have prevented this, and effective local lockdowns should have prevented this.

As my neighbouring MPs and colleagues Debbie Abrahams and Angela Rayner have said, the test and trace system is not world beating – it’s barely even functioning – and our local lockdowns aren’t working either. And this is exactly why we need more from government; we need more engagement, we need evidence and we need more economic support.

There are perfectly viable jobs in Oldham that will be left to sink or swim because the Chancellor does not want to save them. People cannot work part-time if their place of work is closed, and their places of work are closed to help stop the transmission of this virus. It just does not add up.

We’ve got a long way to go, and we must all do our bit to keep the virus under control, however frustrating, however difficult. Stay safe and look after each other.