The spread of Coronavirus is the most serious public health crisis any of us have faced. Getting through this crisis and safeguarding the most vulnerable people in our communities is going to require substantial changes to how we lead our lives in the short and medium-term. That’s why I strongly urge everyone to follow the latest guidance from the NHS and Public Health England in order to contain this disease.
This guidance requests:
- If you, or anyone in your household, has a new cough or high temperature you should self-isolate for 14 days. This means staying at home wherever possible; and limiting social contact if you have to go outside for exercise to get essential supplies. You should ask friends, family and neighbours to get shopping for you if this is possible.
- Stop all unnecessary travel. Avoid all but essential social contact and work from home where possible.
- This especially applies to over 70s, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions.
The full guidance can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
Both as the MP for Barnsley Central and as the Sheffield City Region Mayor, I am working tirelessly to co-ordinate the response to Coronavirus in South Yorkshire. I am receiving regular briefings from South Yorkshire’s Local Resilience Forum and I’m in regular contact with our Directors of Public Health, the NHS, Public Health England, South Yorkshire Police and Government Ministers to make sure that Barnsley and South Yorkshire get the resources we need to deal with the virus.
Coronavirus will also have a profound impact on our economy as workers self-isolate. I welcome the announcement by the Department for Work and Pensions to guarantee access to statutory sick pay for all self-employed and gig economy workers and believe that the Government must do everything in its power to support workers and businesses throughout this period of extreme turbulence. People who do the right thing and follow the Government guidelines must not face a financial penalty for doing so.
As Mayor, I have convened our Local Authorities, economic experts and our Chambers of Commerce to monitor and respond to the impact of Coronavirus on our regional economy. I am working with small businesses to ensure they can access the measures announced in the Budget and pressing the Government for additional support for SMEs and self-employed workers.
This will be an extraordinarily difficult time for our people, our communities and our public services. I have every confidence that our brilliant, hard-working NHS staff will rise to the challenge, but we all need to do what we can to support them. That means shopping responsibly and not stockpiling; supporting our elderly and vulnerable relatives and neighbours who have to self-isolate; and following the official guidelines as they are updated.
I know our communities here in South Yorkshire will look out for each other – as we saw in the floods last November – and that together we will come through this.