Everyone will now be aware how very serious the coronavirus crisis has become. The situation is very fast-moving, both in terms of what we’re learning about the virus, and the actions being taken by government, the NHS, Trafford Council and others to deal with it. I’m posting as much information as I can on my website and Facebook page, and I won’t repeat all that detail here, but do keep an eye on the information I’m sharing, and if there’s a particular issue that I can help with, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do whatever I can.
In parliament, we have had statements from the Health Secretary, the Education Secretary, the Foreign Secretary and the Chancellor, and I have been in the chamber to raise a whole host of questions being asked by my constituents. Sometimes it’s very hard to get a clear answer, and I suspect most MPs, myself included, will soon be asked not to attend parliament for the duration of the crisis, so we’re working out other ways of obtaining information from government ministers. Meantime, an urgent Coronavirus Bill is due to pass through parliament early next week to give the government more powers to act in the emergency we face. We all want the necessary laws to be passed, for example so that retired doctors and nurses can be re-registered, people can receive statutory sick pay from Day One, and mass gatherings can be prohibited. But the proposed measures will also have a significant impact on our rights and civil liberties, so MPs will be looking for assurances from ministers that they’ll be used as sparingly as possible. The Coronavirus Bill doesn’t include some of the measures the government has said it will introduce, like a 3-month ban on evictions from private and social housing, so we’re also expecting further emergency legislation to deliver those promises.
To minimise the risk to my staff, and the public, my office is now closed, and I’m no longer holding face to face advice surgeries or meetings. For now, please contact us by email (email@example.com) , and I’m also making as much use as I can of digital technology to communicate with constituents and others. It’s a steep learning curve for a technophobe like myself, but something people up and down the country are getting used to. We’re lucky that it’s possible to keep in touch in this way, but I must say I’m concerned that we make extra effort to look out for those who are socially isolated or vulnerable, and make sure people’s mental as well as their physical health is looked after. Children face huge upheaval in their lives as a result of schools closing, many will be anxious about what is happening and worried about their futures – I’m really grateful to our heads and teachers who have done all they can to reassure them. And I know many people are keen to volunteer to help elderly or isolated neighbours. Trafford Council is putting together a number of community hubs to help coordinate these efforts – do look out on my website and Facebook page for more information about them as it becomes available.
This virus will affect every part of our community, and it’s so important that we help one another, and help those who are helping us, so that we can get through this together. We are all being asked to do things that are uncomfortable, inconvenient or mean massive changes in the way we’d live our lives normally. We all need to follow the advice the government and the experts are giving, so that we can halt, reverse and eliminate the virus as quickly as possible. It’s hard to know how the next few months will develop, and I know how hard the uncertainty is to deal with as we find ourselves in the early stages of this crisis. I’ll keep everyone updated as much as I can. Thanks for looking out for each other.