Earlier today, the Prime Minister announced new measures for England that will come into force next week and last for the next six months in response to the growing rate of coronavirus infections.
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On top of the existing measures, these include:
- Office workers being asked to work from home if they can.
- Pubs, bars and restaurants closing at 10pm and restricted to table-only service (when dining-in) from Thursday.
- Face coverings needing to be worn in taxis and private hire vehicles, and by retail staff whilst at work.
- Banning indoor team sports of more than six people and not going ahead with the planned return of spectators to sports venues.
- Wedding ceremonies and receptions being capped at 15 people from Monday.
Highlighting the failures of coronavirus testing
In response to his statement earlier, I raised with the Prime Minister the failures of the 'Test and Trace' scheme and the failure of the Government's communications that have led to these further restrictions.
Yesterday, with my colleagues – Sarah Olney MP and Leader of Kingston Council Cllr Caroline Kerr – we wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister on the subject of the availability of coronavirus tests within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames.
This is of particular concern given the recent photographs showing the Chessington testing centre with no patients and staff waiting around.
We called on the Prime Minister to urgently look at the situation around testing and address why Kingston's residents are being sent as far away as Scotland, despite Chessington being the first test centre in London.
Support for families and businesses affected by coronavirus
As families and businesses look forward, especially towards Christmas, I also asked the Prime Minister how the Government will support the millions of people who are on the brink of losing their jobs, their businesses and their livelihoods.
His answer was simply to keep the economy moving whilst suppressing the R-rate to keep the virus down. There was no commitment to extend the current schemes designed to support individuals affected, which are due to end next month. I will continue to press the Government for further support for those who need it the most need.
In Kingston upon Thames, I know that Cllr Caroline Kerr has set up a task force, helping organisations to work together, resulting in companies such as Merlin and Unilever agreeing to support smaller businesses in the borough.
A new self-isolation grant for those on low incomes is due to be available from 12 October through Kingston Council with more details on how to apply available in due course from the Council. The Council are also reopening their coronavirus Hub, and have plans for stalls to hand out face masks and hand sanitiser.
Local employers can also support young people by signing up to the Kickstart Scheme and offering 6-month job placements. Find out more by clicking here.
Additional coronavirus measures from the Mayor of London
I also want to pre-empt you with further updates from City Hall. Last night, the Mayor of London announced a new, cross-party plan agreed with council leaders from all parties – including Leader of Kingston Council, Cllr Caroline Kerr – that he has asked the Government to implement as soon as possible.
I am still awaiting further details of this plan but will update you as soon as I know more.
Continuing to help our communities stay safe
Given the increase in the rate of infection, in our borough it is so important that we all keep following the advice in order to keep everyone safe and protect our communities:
- Wash hands – keep washing your hands regularly
- Cover face – wear a face covering in enclosed spaces
- Make space – stay at least 2 metres apart - or 1 metre with a face covering or other precautions
Getting my help
I am aware that this new guidance and the rise of coronavirus infection rates may be of concern for many, but I want to reassure you that my regular advice surgeries are continuing.
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Due to the pandemic, I'm continuing to receive hundreds of enquiries every day, so my team and I will prioritise the most urgent cases first, so please be patient in awaiting a reply.
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Ed Davey MP