Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do

Coronavirus Update and Information

Published: 26th March 2020 - 3:59 pm Category: National News

Coronavirus Update and Information

Stay home to save lives and protect the NHS
Unprecedented support from Government for jobs and incomes

On Monday, the Prime Minister announced a series of new measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. While many millions of people were following the guidance on ‘social distancing’, the coronavirus outbreak is spreading at a rate which has meant new restrictions on our way of life have had to brought in.

Introducing measures to keep as many people at home as possible and closing non-essential shops was not an easy decision to take. As a supporter of freedom, enterprise and opportunity it saddens me see businesses close, schools shut and people being asked to stay at home and restrict their movements outside. But, in this unprecedented national emergency this, is the right course of action to save lives and protect our NHS.

Unless the rate at which the coronavirus is spreading is curtailed, more people will be affected, more people will, sadly, die and the NHS will not be able to treat all those affected and people with other serious conditions. This is why it is incredibly important that everyone acts responsibly and plays their part in halting the spread of this terrible virus.

We all have responsibility for preventing the spread of coronavirus and the actions we all take can make a big difference in how this virus affects the whole population. We could all be carriers of this disease and pass it on to others. Being responsible at this time and following advice on social distancing will save lives. To stop the disease spreading between households, we need people to stay at home with people allowed to leave only for the following very limited purposes.

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • one form of exercise a day – such as a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household;
  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

The police will have powers to enforce these restrictions. However, I know that everyone will want to support this national effort and will do the right thing in the days and weeks ahead. Sticking to these restrictions will be difficult and we are asking everyone to make significant sacrifices.

It is not easy being apart from families, friends and loved ones. But seeing how quickly this disease has spread elsewhere in the world and the loss of life it causes is a stark reminder of how important it is that we do all what we can to stop coronavirus spreading.

With this level of disruption to our way of life, the Government has introduced wide-ranging measures to support families, jobs and incomes. Working with the NHS, local councils and the food supply chain, the Government is working to ensure that the most vulnerable in society are supported. 1.5 million have been contacted and advised to stay at home and there will be a major campaign to ensure food and essential supplies are provided to them.

The Government is standing on the side of our country’s workers and businesses with its plan for people’s jobs and incomes. Jobs are being protected with the Government helping to pay wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This gives grants to employers who promise to retain their staff, covering most of the cost of paying peoples’ salaries. Businesses are also being supported with measures to access other grants, loans, relief on business rates and deferral of VAT.

For those people who are not in work and the self-employed, the Government is strengthening the safety net by increasing support through Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits.

More support is also being provided by the Government with schemes to help people with mortgage and rent payments. These measures are under constant review and the Government will look at further ways to provide help to families and businesses should more assistance be required.

At a local level, efforts are being coordinated to provide support and services to the most vulnerable and in need. The Government has provided local councils with additional funding and they are working with community groups, businesses, the NHS and emergency services. This will mean that the services many of us use will change in the days and weeks ahead, but this is so that resources can be prioritised and focused.

With many supermarkets supporting the elderly by giving them priority in their shops when they open on certain days, I am pleased to see that Essex County Council and bus operators have temporarily changed the rules on concessionary travel so free bus passes can be used all of the time.

I also welcome the actions that our schools are taking to deliver education remotely to the majority of pupils who are now staying at home; and the care they are providing to the children of key workers and others.

It has been wonderful to see so many people, community groups and businesses come forward to volunteer to offer to do what they can to help and assist in tackling coronavirus and to support those most in need. In these difficult and challenging times, the levels of kindness shown have been extraordinary and will help us all get through the weeks ahead.

As well as thanking those volunteers coming forward, we should also be incredibly grateful for the amazing work that our NHS staff and emergency services are doing every day. Their selfless commitment and dedication are helping to keep our country together at this time. As we are tested in the weeks ahead, their steadfast and tireless determination will be a source of stability and comfort for us.

For the latest information from the Government, please regularly check online at: www.gov.uk/coronavirus

My office continues to be open to support residents and businesses. If you have any enquiries or require help and assistance, please send an email to:WithamMP@parliament.uk

Take care.

Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
Member of Parliament for Witham



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