Following the Prime Minister’s announcement tonight, Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region said:
“The Prime Minister’s statement runs the risk of muddying the message to the British public when clarity is critical. We have already seen social distancing measures start to fray in some places over the weekend, as the government’s mixed messages give the impression that things are beginning to return to normal. Concerningly, the political consensus we had across the UK is starting to crumble. The vague instruction to ‘stay alert’ is only going to make that worse.
“The Government are understandably not able to give an exact timeline for the easing of the lockdown, but they do need to be clear about what conditions need to be in place before the lockdown will be eased, and the scientific evidence on which that judgement is based. Measures against the Coronavirus will only work if everyone plays their part, and this will only happen if the public feel they can trust and understand the advice they are getting.
“Critically, we need to listen to and follow the medical and scientific advice and proceed with caution to avoid triggering a second peak.
“The Government now need to get a grip on their communications, work tirelessly to get the ‘R’ rate below one and they urgently need to further develop testing and tracing capabilities. A credible strategy of test, trace, and isolate will be key.
“I urge the Government to work closely with mayors and local council leaders to ensure that any easing of the lockdown is smooth and orderly, and done in such a way that supports communities and businesses in South Yorkshire and the whole country. Additionally, all those millions of people across South Yorkshire and the UK who are currently furloughed need the certainty that it will not be suddenly cut off, but that it will continue with enough flexibility to support everyone.
“Concurrently, we must get on with the job of not just economic recovery but of renewal. We need a significant stimulus package, but it must be used to invest in tackling the deep-seated problems in our society and economy. Going back to the status quo is simply not good enough.
“Meanwhile, my message to people in South Yorkshire remains the same. Stay at home, stay safe, protect the NHS.”