As with most places, Covid 19 has changed the way Parliament operates and, like many others, I am now working from home. The disruption this virus has caused has been significant and widespread, with everyone affected in some way. Those who work in healthcare and care more broadly are under particular pressure of course and we were right to applaud them last week on our doorsteps. There are many others who also deserve our applause – including those who are keeping us safe, supplying our food shops or educating and looking after the children of all those we need to keep working.
I recognise that for many not in these occupations, it can be difficult to decide what is the responsible course of action, whether to go to work or not, and for many this is a profoundly worrying time. Increasing numbers of the employed and self-employed are now to be helped by Government support, with others still able to go to work with restrictions. The guidance we need to follow is to be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do; https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance and, in a fast-moving situation, it can change, so it needs to be checked regularly. This is frustrating and we can now see that restrictions are likely to be in place for some time. Those who, like me, are trying to work while simultaneously supervising a home school will be facing some additional challenges, though we are I’m sure also developing even greater respect for our children’s teachers. I hear of and experience the difficulties getting shopping delivered and the worry involved in going out to get it.
All of this means it will get harder and harder to observe the restrictions on our lives that have been set, but it will remain vital that we do so, and that we constantly remind ourselves why. Thousands of our fellow citizens will die from this virus, among them the most vulnerable and, in all likelihood, among them too someone we know and love. It is no exaggeration to say that our actions can change the number of deaths, in either direction. The NHS will be under incredible pressure over the coming weeks and we can all help by not adding to it. We can do that in obvious ways – by not spreading the virus and by not using health services unless we need to – and in less obvious ways. The discouragement of unnecessary travel is as much about reducing hospital admissions from road accidents as it is about reducing admissions for coronavirus, but they both occupy the time of our doctors and nurses. I am sure NHS workers appreciated the applause last week, but I am sure they would appreciate even more a reduction in unnecessary work over the coming period. That is why you are hearing so often ‘Stay at home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’. It is a logical sequence.
So, in common with you and with my team who normally staff my offices in Westminster and in Kenilworth, I am staying at home. We will try to help constituents as before, but we will of course have to change the way we work. The best way to contact me will be by email at firstname.lastname@example.org but if you need to call you can still do so on 01926 853650. Please bear with us as it may take longer than normal to get back to you, but we will always try to help if we can. In this and in general, thank you for your patience and fortitude.