Defeating Coronavirus 1

In accordance with Government instructions and like so many others I am now in isolation and my parliamentary work will be done from my home in Beckenham. If constituents wish to contact me I suggest sending an e mail to bob.stewart.mp@parliament.uk is the best way to do it as my Westminster Office is closed for the foreseeable future. My staff are also working from home because that will help defeat this dreadful scourge of Coronavirus. Staying at home is the expert advise if you can.

Yet everyone will have seen pictures over the weekend of people taking advantage of the nice weather to get out and about. Yesterday when I went out to go to a near empty shelved supermarket in Elmers End I was shocked to see whole families wandering around and going to Kelsey Park. In normal times, after a miserable winter, going outr and about in the sunshine would be completely understandable. In the middle of a global pandemic, it bordered on madness.

The Government advice - stay at home unless absolutely essential and, if you have to go outside, keep at least two metres away from others - was ignored by so many people. With the NHS already teetering on the brink, this is almost criminally negligent.

Last night, ministers were also forced to put out fresh guidance to all of those with second homes who have suddenly decided to self-isolate in the country, away from their primary residence. Wales and the Highlands have been particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon, which threatens to spread the virus further and put massive strain on local hospitals.

“Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays,” the guidance makes clear.

This followed on from Boris Johnson’s very clear warning last night that unless people stopped flouting the guidance, much tougher movement restrictions will be introduced effectively forcing people to stay indoors. Already in France you need permission to be out of your house. The PM said a decision would be made “in the next 24 hours”, but it feels like a full-blown lockdown is now inevitable.

For families in Beckenham the coronavirus epidemic gets very real this morning when they have to start home schooling their kids. For many, this will be happening as they also try to hold down full-time jobs from their living rooms.

Many parents have been classed as “key workers” by the Government, meaning they can still send their children to school, where a skeleton staff will provide what essentially amounts to free childcare.

But amid concerns that the system is open to abuse, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “If your work is not critical in the response to Coronavirus then please keep your child at home. This will help to halt the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.”

I know it is near impossible but if everyone avoided going near another person for a few weeks the Coronavirus would die out. Instead by the way so many people are acting we risk many more decent people dying including themselves.