Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a global pandemic which represents the greatest public health crisis for a generation. I fully appreciate public concern around coronavirus, not least as the Government has asked us to make considerable changes to our daily lives to stay at home, help protect the NHS and save lives.
I want you to know that I am passing on concerns to Government daily. The Government has a clear path to overcoming the coronavirus pandemic based on expert scientific advice. The Chief Medical Officer is closely monitoring the decisions taken by all other states and advice from the World Health Organisation to ascertain the suitability of any measures for the UK context. The Government is ready to act when expert advice is given.
The Prime Minister has committed the full power of the state to overcome this challenge and I know that the Government, supported by the Civil Service, are working tirelessly night and day. Combined with our collective efforts, the UK will win the fight against this invisible killer.
Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.
Advice for Constituents (last updated: 20:00 27/04/2020)
For the very latest Government advice and information click here.
The Government is requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes and everyone is encouraged to properly wash their hands often for at least 20 seconds. Non-essential shops and community spaces have closed. This is to help slow the spread of the virus and prevent the number of people needing hospitalisation exceeding the NHS’ capacity to cope. Without ‘social distancing’ it is estimated that NHS capacity will be significantly overwhelmed leading to unnecessary and avoidable death.
People are permitted to travel to work if strictly necessary, to shop for food and medicine, to exercise once daily alone or in a household group or to provide care for a vulnerable person. Every citizen must comply with these new measures. The relevant authorities, including the police, have the legal power to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings. For further details please see the detailed guidance.
If you show symptoms: Even if you are permitted to continue to work or not, you must stay at home if you have either a high temperature or a new, continuous cough. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home. Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you're staying at home.
If you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days. If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible. See stay at home guidance.
Protecting the vulnerable: People who are 70 or over; have a long-term condition; are pregnant; or have a weakened immune system are considered particularly ‘vulnerable’ to COVID-19 and should stay at home for an extended period to help ‘shield’ them from the coronavirus. Strict cleaning guidance should be followed. In addition to the above, the NHS has contacted those who are considered ‘extremely vulnerable’ at getting seriously ill with coronavirus from 23 March 2020 with further specific advice about what to do. If you are unsure see NHS guidance or contact your GP.
I can understand why many are worried about the elderly, our loved ones and our neighbours. It is important that help is provided to those in need and that the negative effects of isolation such as loneliness are mitigated. Charities across the UK will receive a £750 million package of support to ensure they can continue their vital work during the coronavirus outbreak.
Essex County Council is coordinating volunteers to help with such issues and have created The Essex Welfare Service. The Essex Welfare Service is a new single, convenient point of contact for anyone in the Essex area who is in urgent need of help during the coronavirus outbreak. It is also the place to report anyone who you are concerned about. Click to register with Essex Welfare Service.
Our borough Councils also offer further localised support and information to assist those in need supported by £1.6 billion of national funding. Click to see what Basildon Council can offer. Click to see what Thurrock Council can offer.
Basildon Community Resource Centre is also pleased to offer help via the telephone and online with housing advice and benefit guidance, including the completion of online applications, letter writing and queries particularly concerning Universal Credit. Contact either Linda on 07762 189698 or Debbie on 07526 000430 (weekdays 9.30am-1pm, 2pm-3.30pm) for their support.
Volunteer: Essex County Council, The Essex Public Health Team and local Facebook groups have set up Essex Coronavirus Action, a voluntary organisation to ensure that support and assistance reaches the people who need it the most during the outbreak.
If you are an individual who would like to volunteer to help the vulnerable and those self-isolating in our local community please register here.
If you are a business owner/manager who would like to volunteer to help the vulnerable and those self-isolating in our local community please register here.
The coronavirus (COVID19) outbreak has impacted everyone’s daily lives as the Government takes the necessary steps to manage the outbreak, reduce transmission and treat those who need medical attention.
Social distancing is difficult and at times people may feel bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also feel low, worried, anxious, or be concerned about your health or that of those close to you. Everyone reacts differently to events and changes in the way that we think, feel and behave vary between different people and over time. It’s important that you take care of your mind as well as your body and to get further support if you need it.
The Government has issued detailed guidance on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, including: connecting with others, talking about worries, physical wellbeing, sleeping well, how to manage difficult information and much more. The Government have also issued advice to parents in supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
The NHS has also teamed up with the charity Every Mind Matters to offer tailor made Mind Plans based on answers to quick questions to help people deal with stress and anxiety, improve sleep, boost mood and feel more in control.
All schools, nurseries and private schools are closed until further notice. Some schools have been kept open with a skeleton staff to provide support for the children of critical key workers as well as vulnerable children. Click here for full details. Schools and colleges will continue to provide meals or vouchers that can be used at supermarkets across England to support children eligible for free school meals.
To support teachers and parents with remote learning, the Government has launched the Oak National Academy, a bank of high-quality, sequenced video lessons and resources. Vulnerable and disadvantaged young people across the country will receive free laptops and 4G routers to assist them with connecting online. The Government have also issued advice to parents in supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
All exams in May and June have been cancelled. The Chief Regulator of Ofqual has issued a letter to students outlining the steps that teachers will take to ensure children get the qualifications that they need so that they are not disadvantaged in their progress because of these unprecedented conditions.
Ofqual intends to standardise grades across schools and colleges, to make sure that students are not advantaged or disadvantaged because their schools or colleges are more generous or harsh than others. See full information. Exceptional arrangements for exam grading and assessment in 2020 are open for public consultation.
The Department for Education has a dedicated helpline to answer questions about coronavirus related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline by calling 0800 046 8687 (8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday) or by emailing: DfE.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Foreign Secretary has advised against all but essential travel globally and advised all citizens abroad to return home as soon as possible on commercially available flights. The Government has reached an understanding with airlines to work with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in the national interest to get people home. Over 1 million people have now returned home on commercial flights.
In addition, the Government has made available £75 million to charter repatriation flights from priority countries to the UK where commercial routes do not exist, beginning with the most vulnerable. Over 10,000 chartered flights have now taken place. Arranged flights are advertised on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice website which is constantly under review so that it reflects the latest assessment of risks to health and disruption to British people.
To easily determine what financial support is available to you can use the Government’s new ‘support finder’ tool.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made available an initial £330 billion package of Government support for public services, individuals and businesses, including a 3-month mortgage payment holiday. See guidance for employees, employers and businesses. This includes advice on Statutory Sick Pay, those on zero hours contracts, the self-employed and how to apply for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Further support and funding will be made available for as long as is needed.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: Not everyone can work from home. If you and your employer both agree, your employer might be able to keep you on the payroll if they’re unable to operate or have no work for you to do because of coronavirus (COVID-19). This is known as being ‘on furlough’. You could get paid 80% of your wages, up to a monthly cap of £2,500. See guidance for employees, employers and businesses. The scheme is open to all PAYE employees employed before 19 March 2020. Click here for the step by step guide for employers.
Bounce Back Loans: To provide further support to businesses, from May businesses can apply through a short, standardised online application for a new ‘Bounce Back Loan’ up to a maximum of £50,000, or 25% of turnover, with the government paying the interest for the first 12 months. The Government will support lending by guaranteeing 100% of the loan. See further information.
Support for the self-employed: The Government will launch a Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, to make sure people who work for themselves are getting the financial support they need. Through the scheme, the Government will pay self-employed people across the whole of the UK who have been adversely affected by coronavirus a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 per month, for three months – but we will extend it if necessary. The scheme will cover an estimated 95% of all self-employed workers in the UK and the Government and HMRC are working day and night to get this scheme up and running by June.
Support for renters:
The government has announced no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time. Emergency legislation will be taken forward as an urgent priority so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period. The 3-month mortgage payment holiday has been extended to Buy to Let mortgages to take pressure off of landlords to collect rent. The government has also issue guidance which asks landlords to show compassion and to allow tenants who are affected by this to remain in their homes wherever possible. Further support will be provided if necessary.
Support for high-street renters: In order to assist high street shops and other companies that are being placed under strain the Government will introduce temporary new measures to safeguard the UK high street against aggressive debt recovery actions during the coronavirus pandemic. Statutory demands and winding up petitions issued to commercial tenants will be temporarily voided and changes will be made to the use of Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery, building on measures already introduced in the Coronavirus Act. See further details.
The Government have been clear that UK supply chains are robust and there is no shortage of food or product supplies coming into the UK. British food retailers have written a joint letter to their customers to asked the public to come together to support each other by ensuring they do not buy more than they need. Supermarkets will limit the sale of certain items if needed. Many are operating specific opening hours for vulnerable groups and a range of supermarkets are participating in the national voucher scheme to support children on free school meals during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Local Government have extended delivery hours to supermarkets to ensure shelves can be replenished more quickly and the government has also temporarily relaxed drivers’ hours rules and supermarket competition laws so that more goods can be delivered to every store every day.
Protecting the homeless:
The Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced £3.2 million emergency funding to help rough sleepers to self-isolate. The funding will be available to all local authorities in England and will reimburse them for the cost of providing accommodation and services to those sleeping on the streets. It is in addition to the £492 million committed in 2020 to 2021 to support the government’s ambition to end rough sleeping in this Parliament.
The Chancellor has provided our health services with over £6.6 billion so far from the £14 billion coronavirus emergency response fund.
The UK was one of the very first countries to produce a test for the new coronavirus, and the Government has a set out its 5 pillar strategy towards the ultimate ambition that anyone who needs a test can have one. 3 ‘Lighthouse Labs’ have been set up across the country, dramatically increasing the number of coronavirus tests that can take place each day.
As part of pillar 4, the Government is conducting a large-scale virus infection and antibody test study. 20,000 households in England are being contacted to take part in the first wave to help improve understanding around the current rate of infection and how many people are likely to have developed antibodies to the virus. Up to 300,000 people will take part over 12 months. Tests will be undertaken by the IQVIA nurses in participants’ own homes. Current participants are being selected from a group who have already taken part in ONS surveys.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available and is being distributed across the NHS with the assistance of the Army in accordance with the cross-government UK-wide plan. Paul Deighton, London 2012 Chief Executive, has been appointed to lead the national effort.
The Government has also provided £20 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to rapidly produce a vaccine to combat COVID-19 and £30 million to the National Institute for Health Research to fund further research. Both Imperial College in London and Oxford University have received over £20 million each to fund clinical vaccine trials on humans.
It is right that UK aid protects both the British public and help prevent a second wave of coronavirus coming to the UK by slowing its spread in the world’s most vulnerable countries.
The UK is sending funding of £200 million around the world including: £130 million for the UN; £65 million for the World Health Organization; £20 million for UNICEF; £20 million for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR); £15 million for the World Food Programme; and £10 million for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
£50 million will also be sent to the new International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement appeals and £20 million for international NGOs, including UK charities, to tackle the virus.