Monday, 23 March 2020

Newspaper column 25 March - COVID-19 update

As you will have seen, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has become the most profound crisis that we as a country has faced for 70 years.

Things have escalated rapidly in the past ten days, with the Government having to make massive changes across our society in order help slow the spread of the virus, protect our most vulnerable people, save lives, ensure our NHS has everything it needs, and protect the wider economy.

The simple fact is that this is going to impact on every one of our lives. Each one of us has a responsibility to protect one another. No one is excluded from this.

Sadly, the evidence from the last weekend is that far too many are not getting this message. Some people seem to be carrying on as normal as though the rules don’t apply to them. This is not only ignorant but incredibly selfish.

Life should now be different for everyone on of us. Following the rules on staying at home, social distancing and self isolation – whoever we are should mean that life for us should feel very different right now. If you feel like this has not changed the way you live, then I would ask you to look at whether or not you are following the clear advice. 

The is a simple reality – the more everyone follows the rules the quicker we will get through this and life can return to normal and the more lives we will save. I am currently in Westminster in order to pass emergency legislation that will give the government the power to force a lockdown of the country. We have a simple choice – follow the rules voluntarily or if we don’t the government will have to impose a far more strict regime.

On Friday the decision was made to close schools across the country for an indefinite period of time. Schools will now be running a skeleton staff in order to accommodate children of keyworkers who are needed in work at this time and will also be sending home work to do remotely at home. My thanks goes out to all teachers and staff at our schools for their work at this time.

The Government has also set aside hundreds of billions of pounds to support businesses in the biggest economic intervention in our country’s history. This includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying 80% of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

There is also mortgage and rent support available for home-owners and renters via mortgage holiday schemes for homeowners and landlords, as well as the banning of Section 21 evictions for three months.

The Government has shut all pubs, cafes and restaurants, as well as other places where people can socially gather as part of the necessary steps to slow the pandemic. The Government is advising no unnecessary travel. As the weekend approached I began to see signs that people from outside of Cornwall were still preparing to travel to Cornwall, or had even made fresh plans to take a holiday with the closure of the schools.

This clearly is unacceptable, as was some irresponsible businesses touting Cornwall as a place to come and get away from the crowds during the pandemic, and I have made strong calls to the public, along with Cornwall Council, to tell people that for now, Cornwall does not want, and can’t cope with visitors. I was therefore pleased that on Sunday the government issued a clear message that people should not be traveling to go on holiday or to relocate to their second homes during this time.

The Government is constantly evaluating the situation. As I said earlier, this is an unprecedented time where changes are being made across society. I am doing my best to feed back everything I am told to ensure that particular groups of people do not go unsupported at this difficult time.

My thanks must also go out to everyone who is working tirelessly to keep the country going during this crisis, from everyone in our NHS, those who work in social care, pharmacies, supermarkets, the civil service and local government and our emergency services, all doing an absolutely amazing job in the most difficult of circumstances.

It has also been humbling to see the grass roots work from our communities coming together to establish volunteer networks and the ways in which businesses have changed to adapt to these times to still provide a service to their customers. We will get through this together as a strong and combined community.

I have a page on my website which is regularly updated with the latest information - I will also be sending out regular email updates and you can sign up to receive this here -
One final note, my team and I are currently overwhelmed with emails asking for assistance and information. We are prioritising those in most need first, but will try to reply to everyone as soon as possible. You can still get in touch at and messages left on 01726 829379 will be picked up. Thank you for bearing with us at this time.