Richmond Park News: 10 December 2021
By now you will all have heard that the Prime Minister has implemented the Government's Plan B strategy for Covid-19 reduction in response to the spread of the Omicron variant and high Covid-19 case numbers.
From 10 December 2021, mandatory face covering rules are back in place in indoor public places and on public transport, but not in cafes, restaurants and pubs. Workers are instructed to work from home if possible. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to go into work. Certain venues and events will be required by law to check that adult visitors are fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours, or have an exemption.
I know there is a great deal of dismay that these measures have had to be reintroduced, especially given the Prime Minister's cavalier attitude to lockdown violations by members of his own Government. Many of my constituents have written this week to tell me how angry they are that the Prime Minister was holding a party last Christmas while they were being kept away from close and/or vulnerable family members, and that 4000 people were fined for breaking the same rules that the Prime Minister broke.
I share the anger of my constituents - especially those who were alone at Christmas last year, some unable to say goodbye to a dying loved one. The Prime Minister must take responsibility for this scandal.
Nevertheless, the Omicron variant is now spreading in the community, and Covid-19 case numbers are already very high in Richmond Park. Our hospitals are coping for the moment, but could be tipped over the brink by a sharp rise in hospitalisations if the Omicron variant turns out to be less susceptible to our two-dose vaccination regimen. We are once again in a race between vaccinations and infections, with the NHS sprinting to keep the booster jab programme ahead of the spread of Omicron.
I urge everyone to do all they can to slow the spread of the virus by complying with both the spirit and the letter of the new regulations. Please wear your mask in enclosed public spaces, wash your hands and test yourself regularly (especially before attending social events.) You can see all the ways to get free home lateral flow test kits here. And please make sure you and your family are up to date with all of the vaccinations for which you are eligible. You can book your vaccination appointments here.
I know the Prime Minister has lost the moral authority to ask us all to make sacrifices again. But I am asking everyone to do so anyway, not because he asks it, but because it is the only way to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community.
HELPING SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED BUSINESSES
Earlier this week I wrote an article for Politics.co.uk about the need for the Government to do more to help small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) to navigate the new systems and processes put in place since the UK left the EU. Larger companies may have the money and resources to cope with the new obstacles to trade, but many SMEs do not. The Government must urgently make changes to stop our businesses and our economy from being fatally harmed. You can read my article here.
I also wrote to Paul Scully, the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets at the
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy this week to ask him to hold an urgent hospitality summit. Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses are seeing unprecedented rates of booking cancellations for the festive period. With the sector relying heavily on the Christmas season to offset the slower months of the year, we need to do more to save these vital community businesses. You can see the letter, co-written with my colleague Daisy Cooper MP,