A good friend of mine is today returning from hospital having had cancer of the kidney and consequently it removed. He is still very poorly but going home from hospital today. When I spoke to him last night on the phone, he said how grateful and lucky he was to be alive. He said he could not understand why some people still break bounds and go out of their homes unnecessarily thus risking the further spread of Coronavirus. Staying at home is not that great a sacrifice, he said.
Although I do not think people that read what I write here need to be reminded may I nonetheless repeat that we must all stay at home, only leaving for the following very limited purposes:
1. Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible.
2. One form of exercise a day – for example, a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of our immediate household.
3. Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
4. Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
Note that helping vulnerable people is one exception for which people can leave home. Locally now we have almost 3,000 people who have volunteered to help Bromley Council look after isolated or vulnerable people. That is amazing and I am delighted by that response.
Nationally the Government also hoped to recruit 250,000 volunteers to assist the NHS, but in just two days more than double that number have signed up – over 560,000 people. They will now help to drive medicines to patients, bring people home from hospital and make regular phone calls to people staying at home who may not have any company.
The Government will provide free car parking to all NHS staff at hospitals, and local councils will also offer free car parking to all NHS workers, social care staff and NHS volunteers during the coronavirus outbreak, as part of our efforts to ensure health workers have whatever they need during this unprecedented time.
Personally, I think, like Paris’ Metro, the Tube should be closed down as it is simply too difficult to social distance inside carriages. I think we should dedicate buses only for those who have a need to work and carry a certificate to that effect. In much the same way I think black cabs should be enlisted to get key workers from and to their homes. After all a black cab can maintain a 6ft + distance between driver and passenger as well as having a screen too.
I believe (not confirmed by Government as yet) that the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak will today reveal a multibillion-pound bailout to compensate more than 2 million self-employed workers hit by the coronavirus crisis. I suspect he will announce a scheme through which the state will pay money into people’s bank accounts to reimburse them for losses. Officials have discussed plans which will mean people’s income being assessed on the basis of a “blended” mixture of their revenues and profits over the past three years. They would then be paid a significant proportion of their usual income up to a capped amount, which some have suggested should be £1,700 a month. That is great news because so many of my constituents are indeed solo traders, freelancers or self-employed and a lot of them have been e mailing me with huge money worries over the last week or so.
Finally, I am now firmly working from home as Parliament has closed down – on advice. Even reducing numbers and social distancing in the Chamber (see photo) was considered too risky I am told. Like me, most MPs would much prefer to be at work there and supervising government decisions in Parliament but we also understand the imperative of beating Coronavirus which requires us to obey medical/scientific advice and keep away from the place. I pray we neutralise this curse as quickly as possible.