Our Man in Westminster - COVID 19

Coronavirus has quickly and terribly become the only topic anyone wants to talk about. The situation is so fast-moving that in a column like this, which you may be reading a few days after it was written, all I can sensibly do is point you to the best sources of information.

It is especially important in times like this that we follow sensible medical advice. There are all sorts of mad theories circulating on social media (the worst I saw was that it is all caused by 5G), so the first port of call should be Public Health England whose website is part of gov.uk.

The front page of this site gives very clear guidance for businesses, schools, health professionals and other organisations. That advice will change as the virus develops, which is why it would be wrong for me to set it out in any detail here.

Also on the gov.uk website is a page of guidance for employers, employees and businesses. This page will provide details of the help offered to individuals in the Budget on Statutory Sick Pay and other measures, including the Business Rates discount for retailers and small businesses.

As we look to the coming weeks I think many people will want to play a constructive role in their own community, especially helping elderly people who may not be able to get out to the shops. At the moment, the best suggestion is to use the Nextdoor network, which has a local presence in many communities.

On my own Nextdoor network in Charing I have seen a really useful form which can be pushed through your neighbours’ doors offering a range of practical help from phone calls to shopping. If everyone who remains fit and healthy gives help to a neighbour who is not well, we will all ger through this crisis more easily. And whatever you do, keep washing your hands.