My Week in Westminster

The implications of the Coronavirus outbreak across the World are now being felt in Fylde – and I need to ask you all to help not only slow the spread of the disease, but to also keep an eye on friends, family and neighbours.

As counterintuitive as it sounds, we need to both physically isolate from each other, but also ensure we remain in contact in other ways with friends, families and neighbours.

We will get through this by sticking together and working together. By helping collect shopping for those in need where safe and possible, by making a quick phone call to neighbours whose family live away, by talking over the fence to those who need to isolate and have no other contact.

The Government has asked everyone to avoid gatherings and crowded places – we must do all we can top prevent a rapid escalation in the number of cases, which will significantly compromise our health services.

There have been several measures put in place to help businesses cope – and later today, after this newspaper’s deadline, we will know of a further raft of financial help for businesses of all sizes. Business rate relief, grants of up to £3,000 to meet ongoing costs and a loan scheme will form part of that help, along with sick pay paid by the Exchequer.

I would also ask people to try not to bulk buy where possible – supermarkets have stated clearly they will have a continuous supply of food. While it may be prudent to ensure you have a few days’ food at home, hoarding enough for weeks and weeks is preventing some of our most vulnerable members of society from buying essentials. It is also a frightening sight for those people to see shelf after shelf empty and it is causing further anxiety where perhaps it is not necessary.

Remember, the vast, vast majority of us will have a mild cold if we contract the virus. While the effects of the outbreak could prove significant, it will be temporary. Thanks to the strong foundations the Government has built for our economy over several years it is possible to provide this support to public services, individuals and businesses now that it is needed.