The Coronavirus represents the most serious public health crisis any of us have faced. We will get through this with the solidarity, courage, initiative and resilience that epitomises our coalfield communities here in Barnsley and South Yorkshire.
From Thursday 5 November the Government are introducing a second national lockdown, to run until Wednesday 2 December. Specifically, that means:
- You should stay at home. You can only mix indoors with people in your household, support or childcare bubble. You can exercise outdoors with up to one person who isn’t in your household or bubble.
- You should Work from home unless you are unable to do so.
- You should avoid travelling in and out of your local area, except for work, education or other essential purposes.
- All non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure, personal care will close. Food, medicine, garden centres and other essential retailers can remain open.
- Schools, colleges and early years provision will remain open.
- If you are clinically vulnerable, then you should minimise your contact with others and work from home where you can. People who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be contacted by the Government and should not go to work. You may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay or Employment Support Allowance.
Full guidance on what you can and can’t do can be found here.
These restrictions are, sadly, necessary to save lives and prevent our NHS from being overwhelmed. However, this situation was not inevitable. The Government’s own scientific advisors gave clear advice on the need for a lockdown almost six weeks ago and warned that not acting immediately to reduce cases would have catastrophic consequences. If that was not enough, there was a brutally clear lesson from the first wave about the cost of delay both in lives and economic damage. The government nonetheless chose not to accept this advice, and real harm will have been done as a consequence. We must not repeat the mistakes of the past eight months.
I understand how just weary and frustrated many people will be. But the last lockdown was effective, and this one can be as well – if we follow the rules. For the sake of our families, our communities, and our economy, for a chance of a relatively normal Christmas, we need everyone to do their part. If we squander this opportunity, we risk the country yo-yoing in and out of lockdown, amid a crumbling economy and an overwhelmed NHS. That’s why I urge everyone to follow these new restrictions when they come into force on Thursday and do their bit to save lives and livelihoods and protect our NHS.
These restrictions will buy us precious time; time that the Government cannot afford to squander. That is why they must fix the broken Test-and-Trace system and give responsibility for contact tracing to local public health teams; ensure that council leaders and Mayors are fully integrated into the decision-making process; and provide proper support to individuals, businesses and councils, so people can afford to follow the rules and we minimise the harm to the economy.
I will be pressing the Government for further detail in the coming days. In the meantime, I urge the people of South Yorkshire to follow the new rules when they come into force on Thursday.
As your local MP and as the South Yorkshire Mayor I have been working flat out with our local councils, our Directors of Public Health, the NHS, Public Health England, Government Ministers and Number 10 to ensure that Barnsley and South Yorkshire have the resources and tools at our disposal to respond to this crisis.
I would like to pay tribute to the more than 40,000 people across the country – including the hundreds here in South Yorkshire – who have lost their lives to this horrible disease and extend my deepest sympathies to their families, friends and loved ones. Every death represents a family in mourning and a community devastated.
I’d also like to offer my heartfelt gratitude to those front-line workers – the doctors, nurses, social care workers and support staff; the retail, transport and postal workers; the staff in our Local Authorities delivering vital services, to name just a few – who are working flat out to protect our most vulnerable and keep our communities going. Thank you.
Every home in Britain has been touched by the Coronavirus. Whether through losing a relative, serving as a key worker, or enduring profound disruption to everyday life. We will overcome this virus, together, by maintaining our collective resolve, continuing to follow the advice and taking every measure to contain this disease. Lives depend upon it.
I know our people and our communities here in South Yorkshire will look out for each other and that together we will come through this.