Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Newspaper column 23 September 2020 - More covid measures and Ministerial visits

The last week has been another challenging week in Parliament.

Firstly, I was pleased to be able to speak a number of times in the chamber, including asking a question at Prime Minister’s Questions to ask Boris Johnson for more support for our local airport.

I was then pleased to welcome the Tourism Minister, Nigel Huddleston to our constituency. I hosted a meeting with local tourism businesses at the Headland Hotel in Newquay, where he was able to hear first hand the impact of the pandemic on tourism businesses, the help that government support has provided, and their concerns about the coming months.

Then on Friday I was able to take him to the Eden Project to see for himself how they have adapted to be Covid secure to allow visitors back in.

There is no substitute for government ministers seeing for themselves the situation we face here in Cornwall and listening directly to the businesses effected. I know he has taken back a very clear picture of the ongoing help we will need.

Obviously, the big issue of the last few days has been the concern about the rising levels of Coronavirus around the country. At the time of writing this column we are still waiting to hear from the Prime Minister in his statement to Parliament on Tuesday what further measures may be taken to fight the spread of the virus.

Whilst the number of cases in Cornwall remains low compared to the rest of the country, the numbers are increasing. Although it was widely expected that we would see an increase as autumn approached, the rate at which the virus appears to be spreading is causing the government, based on the evidence and advice of health experts, to look closely at what further measures will be needed.

There is a very clear message to all of us, that it is vital we keep to the restrictions in place. The new rule of 6, which limits the number of people who can meet in any setting to six, has been in place for just over a week and it is crucial that we all play our part and keep to this rule.

There is no escaping the fact that it is down to every one of us to be responsible and take all the steps necessary to keep ourselves and others safe.

The Chief Medical Officer, Chris Witty, made this very important point in his statement on Monday, that fighting this virus has to be a collective effort. Whilst some of us may think the risk to us personally is very low, we cannot just think about ourselves. Every person who catches the virus, never mind the symptoms we experience, will be a carrier that risks those around us from catching it.

We are seeing the number of cases double roughly every week. We know from our own previous experience and from watching what is happening in other countries that we need to get on top of this virus once again or it will run out of control.

Previously, as a country, and a local community we brought the virus down, but all the evidence shows it is seeking to come back. Whatever the government decides, and the PM announces, it will be with one aim in mind, to limit the spread and save lives.

I know for many people and businesses any further restrictions will be hard to take and I will make sure those views and concerns are heard. If we experience any further restrictions that have a negative impact on local businesses I will seek further support from the government. Additionally, I will continue to do all I can to ensure our local health and care services get the support they need.

I was pleased that the government announced a further £500,000 to support care homes in Cornwall and enable them to prevent the spread of infection in the coming months. This is very welcome and I will seek to ensure Cornwall Council spend this money in the most effective way, to keep our elderly and most vulnerable parts of our community safe.

I know we are once again entering uncertain times. My office team and myself will continue to do all we can to provide support and advice, and answer any questions you may have. So if you feel we can help please do get in touch. Email tel. 01726 829379