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Rutland and Melton MP Alicia Kearns comments on the coronavirus crisis

I understand that there is a lot of uncertainty and concern amongst Rutland residents due to the outbreak of coronavirus and that the next few months seem daunting, given the action we need to take together to heal our nation. I want to reassure you that I am completely committed to supporting every single one of you throughout this outbreak.

There is no denying that this is the most significant public health issue this country has faced for a long time, but the Government has a robust and comprehensive plan, guided by the best possible scientific evidence. That plan gives our country the greatest chance of tackling the virus, while minimising damage to our communities and economy.

Coronavirus (32016775)
Coronavirus (32016775)

The Government’s objective remains to delay and flatten the peak of the epidemic by bringing forward the right measures at the right time to minimise suffering and save lives. We are also working to try to contain the virus to a single peak and not two across the year. I would like to stress this is a real-time event, and the steps that are taken will change to reflect the developing situation.

Last week, we moved on from the ‘contain’ phase in the Government’s plan, which had created invaluable time to provide both the legislation and funding needed to tackle the outbreak head on. However, it is clear the number of cases is rising, and so we have progressed to the next stage of our plan.

This ‘delay’ phase focuses on delaying the peak of the virus until the summer months to minimise suffering and ensure the NHS is best equipped to save lives. It appears that we are now reaching the fast-growing part of the upward curve of infections, and the number of cases could double every five days if we do not put in place a serious and targeted response. Proportionate and nationally coordinated action is being taken in line with the best scientific evidence and medical advice available. This will save lives.

The Government is asking anyone with the initial coronavirus symptoms of a new continuous cough or a high temperature, however mild, to stay at home for seven days if they live alone or 14 days if they live in a household with other people. Crucially, we are asking every member of an affected household to stay at home.

The Government is also asking people with underlying health conditions and those over 70 to refrain from all social contact for around 12 weeks. People over 70 should continue to exercise if possible and can, therefore, go out but are asked to self-isolate as much as possible. At this time, it is ever more important that our communities come together and support friends and neighbours who are self-isolating.

Although it is demanding, this period of shielding and maximum protection is being introduced now to coincide with the peak of this virus.

Unfortunately, now is also the time for everyone, regardless of age or health, to stop non-essential contact with others and to refrain from visiting pubs, clubs, theatres and other social venues. Please do not attend mass gatherings and work from home if you possibly can. I cannot stress enough the importance of not calling 999 or 111 unless it is an emergency.

Alicia Kearns (25006121)
Alicia Kearns (25006121)

I understand these measures are difficult and disruptive, but the Government is clear that such extreme action is only to be taken when it will make the biggest difference and save the most lives. That time is now.

By the start of next week, two different schemes catering specifically for large companies as well as small and medium enterprises will be up and running to ensure they have the liquidity to pay their rent, salaries and suppliers and to purchase stock.

It is clear some businesses will be hit harder than others as a result of this outbreak, and so all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, regardless of their rateable value, are exempt from Business Rates for twelve months. This applies to every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue and restaurant in the country.

Where pubs, cafes and restaurants want to offer takeaway and delivery options, please do order food from them to help them survive this period.

For those of us in work but facing difficulty due to coronavirus, we have introduced a three-month mortgage holiday. I am sure it will come as real reassurance that those not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay can now access advanced Universal Credit payments from day one of self-isolation without the previous requirement to attend a job centre. Crucially, the minimum income floor for Universal Credit has been relaxed for those directly affected by Covid-19. The self-employed can also access specific loans and business rate relief if they own properties, and the Government will be announcing further support in the coming days.

I am working hard to help residents who need support to get through this outbreak, to bring home residents stuck abroad, to raise your concerns with ministers, to advocate for increased support for our local businesses, and to keep you informed. I am here for you.

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