I am writing to you with a further update about the current situation. Many of you will have seen the Prime Minister’s broadcast on Sunday evening, but I thought it might be helpful to share some of the key points of the new rules with you.
Workplace – what we can and can't do
Firstly, when it comes to work, those who can work from home are still being asked to do so, and the list of businesses that are still required to be closed remains unchanged from March – with two exceptions. The aim is that this will start to change in early June if progress against the virus continues.
The only changes are that garden centres will be allowed to open from this Wednesday, and some sporting facilities can reopen, but not their clubhouses. But all of these remain subject to specific conditions and you should check the new guidance document for details.
Every other business apart from those listed, and those in the education arena covered by the separate provisions for schools and early years providers, is able to continue operating and should do so if it is at all practical while maintaining social distancing in the workplace. Please also remember that if you are a business that has had to close its premises, you can still do online or telephone-based work.
Social Distancing – what you can and can't do
Secondly, there has been some debate about what you are now allowed to do and not allowed to do outside work.
We know that the virus is most easily transmitted in groups of people, which is why the rules prevent you having gatherings of friends and family in your home. You can be fined if you do this.
But the new rules do allow a little more flexibility than before. You can go further afield for a walk or to have a picnic. You can also meet up with one other person not from your household as long as you keep the two metre distancing rule. You can also now play a small number of sports as long as you do so alone or with members of your own household, or with one other person not from your household. These include golf, tennis and angling.
But things like having your friends round for a barbecue or playing five-a-side football are not yet permitted.
If you have any queries, have a look at the document, and if you can’t get the answer let me know and I will try to get clarification for you. There are some issues still outstanding, like some details on what is now allowed on childcare, and I will provide updates when I get them. I am expecting a further statement on Tuesday from the Chancellor about support for business and employment.
Surrey County Council country car parks
One thing that will change locally as a result of the new rules from the Government is that local car parks in walking and beauty spots in Surrey will reopen shortly. The County says that they will not be charging for the car parks while the current crisis continues.
Can I be tested?
A reminder that if you are an eligible person and start to experience coronavirus symptoms, you can be tested at the test centre at Chessington World of Adventures. It’s quick and easy, though you have to book in first. To apply for the test click here.
You can apply for a test if you are:
an essential worker with coronavirus symptoms
aged 65 or over with coronavirus symptoms
someone who cannot work from home and has coronavirus symptoms (for example, construction workers or delivery drivers)
Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can apply if they live with an essential worker, a person aged 65 or over, or someone who travels to work.
You can also apply for a test if you have a clinical referral from NHS 111 online.
Community Recycling Centres
A reminder that the local refuse and recycling centres have now reopened, except some smaller ones elsewhere in the County. But they are only accepting black bin bags and garden waste for the time being. It’s worth checking the relevant website before you go just to check on current status.
Supermarket deliveries for those self-isolating or shielding at home
For anyone who is still having difficulty getting supermarket deliveries I have had this message from ASDA – particularly for anyone who is self-isolating or shielding at home. I hope it proves helpful.
We are launching a food box, which will typically contain 31 store cupboard staples for £30, making it the best value supermarket food box available on the market. It is targeted at vulnerable people who are struggling to get to the supermarket and is easy for volunteers to purchase on their behalf. Your constituents will be able to buy these on https://foodboxes.asda.com/and have a box delivered directly to their door within two days of placing the order. The box will contain supplies that have been in high demand including cereal, bread, pasta and tinned fruit and vegetables.
Thank you to our local volunteers
Can I finally thank all of the local volunteers who are helping support the vulnerable at this difficult time. A huge amount of work is being done to help, by charities like Age Concern, the Foodbank and the team of NHS volunteers, and I am very grateful to all of them. But we also owe a debt of gratitude to all of the other volunteers who are keeping other local charities going in tough circumstances.
The full list of government guidelines and advice is available here.