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Richmond Park News: 23 February 2021

I was relieved to hear the Prime Minister set out a cautious approach when he presented his lockdown exit plan to us in Parliament yesterday. I believe we have been hasty in removing measures in the past and was pleased to see that lessons seem to have been learned.

I agree with the Prime Minister that it is right for schools open first, as part of a data-led relaxation of restrictions. We must prioritise the needs of our children, whose educational, emotional and practical interests are all served by sending them back to school. It is vital, though, that we give schools the guidance and support they need to reopen safely and stay open. This includes funding for testing, PPE and whatever staffing costs arise as a result of self-isolation alerts.

Hopefully we will get the testing programme in schools right this time. Secondary school pupils, who are more likely than younger children to catch and transmit the virus, are to be tested twice a week using rapid-response lateral flow tests, with positive results confirmed by the more accurate PCR testing. Teachers, including staff at private and voluntary nursery settings, will also be provided with bi-weekly tests to administer at home. I have been calling for this to be rolled out to nursery staff for months, and am relieved that this will now be offered to them.


Our vaccination programme is going well in Southwest London, with 288,000 residents vaccinated so far. The new vaccination centres in Twickenham and Kingston are working well and expect to be increasing their pace as we move into spring.

I would like to remind everyone that the current Covid-19 measures apply regardless of whether you have been vaccinated or not. Please continue to follow all guidance and practice good hygiene even after you have been vaccinated. This will help us get the numbers down as fast as possible.

Richmond's case rate is now under 100/100,000 again, and Kingston's is just over 100, so we are doing well here, but the rate of decrease has slowed and we need to stay our course.


I wrote to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) today urging the Government to honour its commitment to banning UK Export Finance funding for fossil fuel projects abroad.

Despite announcing its intention to ban the practice in December