Saturday, 04 July 2020

Good news but please remain cautious

THERE are many reasons to be happy following the Government’s announcement on Tuesday that a number of services will be allowed to return on July 4.

The one I am most excited about is hairdressers because I desperately need a haircut. I am also looking forward to going out for a drink.

This is going to be done on the basis of guidance rather than legislation and that is very important. It is about persuading people to come with us rather than telling them they have to.

There are still reasons to be cautious. The disease hasn’t gone away, even though we had the lowest deaths figures on Monday since the week before the lockdown was introduced.

We need to be careful not to experience a second spike. This has happened in other countries and they are having localised lockdowns, which is the way we would have to go as well.

I think there will be many people who are cautious about going out again and I don’t blame them — we have all seen the appalling number of people who have died.

However, I do hope people will take this for what it is, which is a cautious opening up of some of the aspects of society to try to get us back to normal.

I am open-minded about the 2m rule. It is a safety measure and does provide a degree of protection for the population but at some point we are going to have to move to 1m. If the judgement is that now is the right time to do it then we should embrace that.

Nothing has been done throughout this terrible pandemic without the advice of science and that applies equally to this situation. There is a difference of opinion among the scientific community as to whether we should stick to 2m. Ultimately, somebody has to decide and choose between these two views and that is what we politicians are here for.

Businesses must be covid-secure, which is what we have tried to do with Parliament. We have notices everywhere about social distancing and the number of people in the chamber.

The general feedback I have had from “non-essential” businesses since they re-opened on June 15 has been positive. I think people have actually been quite cautious and we have not seen the sort of mass gatherings that happened at Bicester Village and that is to be welcomed.

We must all try to stop a second wave taking hold. We know that the disease spreads much more quickly and devastatingly indoors and there is caution built in by the Government in releasing the lockdown. Provided that things go well with this release, we will see further relaxing of measures soon.

A constituent called me the other day to say he had tested positive for covid-19, although he had no symptoms, and the NHS tracing system had worked brilliantly. Within a day of him getting his result, the system was on his phone and working as it should.

Many people are receiving furlough or self-employment income support, which have proved their worth in keeping thousands of people off the unemployment register and ensuring they have a job to go back to.

I am still handling queries from companies and discussing problems with ministers. There is a big issue around early years provision and nurseries, particularly those that are charities,  and whether they get any relief. I am discussing this with the Chancellor.

We still need to make sure people are supported until the end of what will transpire to be the normal
situation.

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