⚠ GUIDANCE ON CORONAVIRUS ⚠
TUESDAY 24th MARCH 20:00 UPDATE
This page will be updated as the government guidance develops.
- Government restrictions and guidance
Last night the Prime Minister announced that the government will be enforcing ‘social distancing’ measures for everyone in the UK, meaning people should only leave their homes for limited reasons. These are:
- Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
- One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
- Any medical need, to provide care or help to a vulnerable person, or volunteering within the community.
- Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
The Government has also ordered all non-essential retail stores to close. There are exceptions to the Government rules, however, which include:
- Supermarkets and other food shops;
- Health shops, pharmacies including non-dispensing pharmacies;
- petrol stations,
- bicycle shops and home and hardware shops;
- laundrettes and dry cleaners;
- garages and car rentals;
- pet shops;
- corner shops, newsagents, post offices, and banks
If you are a business owner and are unsure whether or not to close, the government has published more detailed guidance here.
Core medical advice
Do not leave home if you or someone you live with has either:
- a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home. Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do.
Self-isolating – people at high risk:
Up to 1.5 million people in England identified by the NHS as being at higher risk of severe illness if they contract coronavirus. If you are at higher risk you will have been contacted by the NHS already with guidance to self-isolate (stay at home) for 12 weeks.
Others who should take extra care to self-isolate at home include:
- People over the age of 70
- Other adults who would normally be advised to have the flu vaccine (such as those with chronic diseases)
- Pregnant women
All schools are closed as of yesterday, Monday 23rd March – until further notice.
This applies to all children except to those of key workers and where children are vulnerable.
- Examples of key workers include NHS staff, police, and delivery drivers who need to be able to go out to work. The full list is here.
- Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health & Care Plans.
All exams – including GCSEs, AS levels and A levels – will not go ahead this summer.
I am aware of concerns raised by parents of children in receipt of free school meals about how this will be implemented. The government has published more information here, and I will be following this issue closely as local schools develop plans.
NOTE: The Department for Education has been informed some parents have received an email stating: ‘As schools will be closing, if you’re entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we’ll make sure you’re supported’. This is a scam email – do not respond, and delete immediately.
Business and employment support
The Government has announced a major package of support for employees and businesses, including:
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – government grants to employers which cover 80% of an employee’s salary to avoid redundancies. This also covers employees on zero-hours contracts. All UK businesses are eligible.
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan – supports small and medium-sized businesses with access to loans of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years – with the first year interest-free.
- Statutory Sick Pay will now be paid from day one for those self-isolating. Alongside other Labour MPs I am calling for sick pay to be raised so it is in line with average earnings.
- Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments – If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.
- More support for self-employed – The government is expected to announce a support package – similar to the Job Retention Scheme – for self-employed and freelance workers. Check the links below in the coming days for updates.
- Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme – provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.
- Small Business Grant Scheme – a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.
Croydon Council support for those experiencing hardship of difficulty
If you are experiencing hardship or difficulties, Croydon Council has a range of services that might be able to help you. This includes:
- If you need help with benefit advice
- If you need help paying your council tax
- If you need help paying your rent
- Food stops & food vouchers
- Children and young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND)
Homeowners and landlords can now apply for a three-month mortgage payment holiday by contacting their lender. Mortgage payment holidays are available to all homeowners who are up to date on their mortgage payments. You don’t need to have contracted or have been tested positive for the coronavirus to apply for a payment holiday.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises all British people travelling abroad to return to the UK now, if commercial flights are still available. This advice was published on 23 March and takes effect immediately.
The FCO advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. This advice took effect immediately on 17 March and applies initially for 30 days.
Proud to be re-elected as your MP for Croydon Central
“I am incredibly proud to have been re-elected as your Member of Parliament for Croydon Central. To those of you who voted to re-elect me or helped with my campaign I want to say a huge thank you. Whether or not you voted for me, I want to be clear that I am here to represent and serve the whole of our fantastic community.
“I’m fully committed to delivering on the pledges I made to you during the election: continued action on knife crime, fighting Tory school cuts, developing a green new deal for Croydon, opposing a no-deal Brexit and delivering affordable homes for local people.
“With the backdrop of a Boris Johnson majority, with more austerity ‘baked in’ to their spending plans according to the IFS, these campaigns will be more challenging. But I have delivered for you over the past two years and I will strive every day to deliver a fairer, safer Croydon.”
I hold a regular weekly advice surgery for constituents. To book an appointment, click here.