COVID-19 - New Guidance

12th May 2020

Following the PM’s Statement on Sunday evening, and the new Government position and 50-page guidance, I thought it would be helpful to provide a summary of the key changes, and what it means for us here in Mid Norfolk. 

My summary below and here.

Whilst, to be honest, I do not think the communications have been well handled, and do not think “stay Alert” is especially helpful for people wanting clear guidance, I do believe the Prime Minister and Government are serious about trying to find ways to minimise the wider economic and health disruption to our society and economy and to ease the worst constraints of the lockdown as soon as is safely possible. 

From my daily and weekly calls with all the local health and Operation Shield leaders and constituents I have several specific concerns: 

  • Whilst the hospitals are relatively quiet and have all the PPE they need, our local Care sector is still vulnerable to serious outbreaks and very high mortality rates and different availability to PPE
  • The data on the disease is not yet adequate to allow lockdown: PHE and NHSE do not yet have accurate data on the care sector 
  • The level of testing capacity is not sufficient to allow a widespread return to safe work 
  • The new guidance allowing households to drive long-distance and take extended exercise must not be an excuse for large scale tourist to our vulnerable coastal communities 
  • The local economy, especially tourism in its vital peak season, has been devastated by the lockdown. The only thing worse would be a false start with staff de-furloughed and shops and venues opened up, only to see a spike AND then another lockdown. 
  • Tor many of our vulnerable local high streets and traditional shops this will be the end. We will need a major economic recovery investment Plan. 

The decision not to do that yet must be the right one: here in Norfolk whilst the overall infection and mortality rate in the general population is low and levelling off, the death rate in our care homes and amongst the most vulnerable is rising. On the Governments 5 criteria, we are not in a position to end the lockdown. 

I welcome the Governments commitment to start slowly encouraging those who CAN return to work safely to do so, whilst closely monitoring the situation to ensure we don’t see a secondary surge in infection. 

Given the high number of older & vulnerable residents on the coast, it is VITAL that we don’t see a wave of visitors and 2nd homers flocking from across the country to the Norfolk coast and risking a major localised epidemic in our coastal communities. 

After 8 weeks of major sacrifice in a national lockdown, it would be a disaster to ease off too soon in the wrong ways and compound the economic damage with a surge in infection and mortality. 

This crisis is far from over. As we knew 8 weeks ago, it will test us our local and national resilience. 

This weekend was a poignant moment to remember that older generations have been through worse. I also attach a link to my weekend video on the importance of VE Day as a moment to recapture the spirit of respect for sacrifice for the common good shown today by so many volunteers and frontline health and care staff. (Link)

I and my team of 3 continue to work flat out handling the mountain of correspondence, calls and requests for guidance and help. 

We will get through this. I look forward to being able to get back out and about and see constituents across our part of Norfolk. 

Until then - let us all stay safe, stay sane (!), stay socially distant, keep washing our hands and staying in touch as best we can. 

George 

 

My Latest Local Interviews: 

BBC Radio Norfolk (Sunday 10th May): https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08bs5dh Starts at 1hr 20mins

BBC Radio Norfolk (Monday 11th May): https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08bs5gh Starts at 8:35.