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Updated: 24 September 2020

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The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy:

On Tuesday the 22nd September in two addresses, one to the House of Commons and one on national TV, the Prime Minister outlined a number of modifications to current restrictions to be immediately implemented in an attempt to combat the recent rise in Covid-19 spread across the UK.

 

We all share in feelings of frustration and apprehension that the virus has begun to spread fast again resulting in the need to review the situation.  Many will share the view that we must act early and fast to avoid a second national lockdown - others believe this to be disproportionate.

Incidence rates of COVID-19 are currently low locally across West Sussex but slowly rising slightly and are being closely monitored by our local Councils, Public Health teams and the National Government. Rates locally to Worthing have noticeably risen - this was, in large part, due to a single small cluster of cases, linked to one location in one evening, and therefore not classed as an outbreak. The figure equates to 13.4 cases per 100,000 people, which is well below the national average of 32.8 cases per 100,000.

 

Other cases are singular or small scale in high-density environments such as schools. These situations have been dealt with, admirably, by our schools’ leadership teams with careful measures put in place to ensure students and staff are not put at risk. The rate of infection locally has, broadly, followed the national trend, including select incidences that will increase our local figures despite being confined to specific and containable areas.

Whatever our own personal stance, each person must comply with the tougher restrictions for the protection of all, particularly our most vulnerable. 

 

The new measures mean pubs, bars and restaurants must close at 10:00 pm and are restricted to table service only; people should work from home wherever possible; face masks are compulsory for bar staff and non-seated customers, shop workers and waiters; the limit on wedding guests reduced to 15; a ‘rule of six’ now applies to all indoor team sports. 

 

Of course, there also remains an emphasis on frequent hand washing and adherence to social distancing at all times.   Fines for not wearing masks or following rules have been increased to £200 for a first offence and there will be a greater police presence to ensure the restrictions are being followed.

 

Our best scientific and medical advisers have judged that these adjustments given the current ‘R’ rating are proportionate to tackle the spread of the virus early and fast.  The situation must remain fluid so that if further changes are needed these too can be implemented fast.

Some have raised concerns regarding the manner and speed by which COVID regulations are being implemented. These concerns have been shared by some MPs and raised by the Speaker of the House of Commons. It is vital the government have powers to act fast but coupled with this is the requirement to liaise closely with all of Parliament to ensure decisions that are made are done so with all viewpoints and constituency considered.

 

We have learned from our experience earlier this year that if we act together now, we can ensure the NHS remains protected; we all desire for people to continue to access treatment for other illnesses, including cancer, and seasonal flu during the forthcoming winter months.

Some constituents have shared concerns with accessing COVID-19 tests locally. On some occasions, my team and I have been able to resolve the issue with welcome speed - with most, we have shared their concerns at the appropriate level and requested urgent response. It is necessary to reiterate that local testing centres are managed by the Department of Health and Social Care and the bookings are managed on the national system.

 

I urge all to act in a spirit of togetherness, to suppress this virus now, to save lives and to enable us to avoid tougher measures later. We must not act selfishly but, rather, consider the health and wellbeing of those around us as we go about our lives.

Important Points to Remember:

  • Clinically vulnerable people should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their households, but do not need to be shielded

  • Those travelling abroad should quarantine for two weeks following travel should the country/countries they have visited not be on the travel-corridor list.

  • Those quarantining at home should not leave their house, utilising deliveries or the help of friends or family to receive essentials.

  • Personal face coverings shouldn’t replace social distancing.

Advice on Staying Safe:

  • Keep your distance from people outside your household

  • Keep your hands and face as clean as possible

  • Avoid being face to face with people if they are outside your household

  • Avoid crowds

  • Wash your clothes regularly, with a special focus on what you have worn in public

  • Keep indoor places well ventilated to reduce transmission

  • If you can, wear a face-covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible

 

Ongoing Updates and Relevant Information:

Full Explanation of the Government's Recovery Strategy

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© 2019 Sir Peter Bottomley MP

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