WHY on Earth is the Government sending the country into yet another damaging lockdown?

That was the cry from many this weekend, including prominent figures such as top Tory Iain Duncan Smith, who said the Government had ‘given into scientific advisers’.

Oxford scientists Tom Jefferson and Carl Heneghan, meanwhile, from Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, have written a long open letter to the Prime Minister criticising lockdowns for ‘kicking the can down the road’, and saying the Government should instead be improving Test and Trace.

On today’s front page, we report the warning from Oxford traders’ group ROX that the new lockdown will have a devastating impact on local businesses, many of them finally reopening after the first lockdown and preparing for healthy sales in the run-up to Christmas.

Meanwhile, as we all know, the coronavirus is not life-threatening to all people and, indeed, many younger people can catch the coronavirus and not have any symptoms at all.

So why on Earth are we doing it?

The answer is an extremely simple one, and is exactly the same reason that we went into lockdown the first time in March: to protect the NHS.

All of the arguments above have some weight, but as the Prime Minister and his advisers very clearly explained on Saturday, if we don't go into lockdown, the NHS will rapidly be overwhelmed with cases of coronavirus and it will be unable to deal with thousands of other patients in urgent need of healthcare.

In this country we take care of those in need: we don't abandon the weak or the old to die just because life will be tough for the rest of us if we make the necessary sacrifices to protect them.

For all those critics who say 'I'm not scared of the virus', this lockdown is not about you. This is an enormous sacrifice which we are all making to protect those who need and deserve our protection.