The government is rightly taking tough powers to enable it to take action necessary to cut the number of deaths in this corona virus crisis. And they are rightly giving strict advice about what we must do to protect ourselves during the epidemic.
The Prime Minister’s updated advice on 16th March asking people to “social distance” is following the medical evidence but it is affecting pubs, shops and restaurants. The government need to ensure they can survive past this crisis.
Coronavirus is already hitting small businesses struggling as supplies from abroad dry up or employees have to take time off. So they will need compensation quickly.
The government has paused business rates which is welcome. There needs to be rent relief, suspension of utility bills and compensation payments too.
Local help for small businesses in Southwark:
Southwark Council have set up an advice service for businesses: email SouthwarkBusinessDesk@southwark.gov.uk
They have also set up an emergency support service for those in financial hardship on 020 7525 2434
We can all do our bit as individuals by not risking ourselves and others and sticking to the advice.
The government will be keeping the public informed and also making itself accountable to Parliament. But Parliament will work very differently with only a few MPs allowed in the chamber. The Human Rights Committee which I chair has agreed to suspend our meetings but instead make our decisions by email. My dedicated caseworkers who help with my work for constituents who have problems including benefits, immigration or housing are still doing their work but doing so from home, working online.
The bottom line is that the government needs to do everything possible to protect lives and we need to act on that advice and play our part in these unprecedented times.