Dear residents of Rutland and Melton,
I wanted to write and give you an update on the national lockdown that is proposed to come into effect on Thursday, and what that means for you and your families.
As I'm sure you all know the announcement was made over the weekend when Parliament was not sitting. The Prime Minister and other Cabinet Ministers have engaged extensively with me as your MP over the weekend to answer the questions you have, and to enable me to interrogate the data available. I continue to work through this.
I can tell you that the Prime Minister was not happy that the news was originally leaked to the media, and an inquiry has been launched. Important news like this should not be leaked, and I hope the people responsible are held to account.
I spoke to Matt Hancock, Jenny Harries (Deputy Chief Medical Officer) and Stephen Powis (National Medical Director of NHS England) over the weekend, and also to many Government departments to raise concerns of local residents.
What I can tell you is that although Rutland and Melton have some of the lowest infection rates in the country still, those rates have still been rising extremely quickly.
Melton has seen its rate per 100,000 increase by 791% between the 7 day period ending 28 September and the latest 7 day period.
Rutland has seen its rate per 100,000 increase by 207% between the 7 day period ending 28 September and the latest 7 day period.
Market Harborough has seen its rate per 100,000 increase by 466% between the 7 day period ending 28 September and the latest 7 day period.
At rates like that, the Government has to take serious action to arrest the rise in cases, and the steadily increasing hospitalisation rates throughout the country. Contrary to some reports, we are moving quickly, and are moving into lockdown faster than many other European countries did, who all moved at a higher point on the disease curve. I am now assessing the data to determine what is the right approach for us and the nation.
The principles of this lockdown are broadly the same as those imposed in March. Everyone is encouraged to work from home where it is possible. If it is not possible, you should still go to work. Socialising between households is prohibited and all non-essential retail, hospitality and leisure will closed from 00.01 5 November. All the rules can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november
There are a few key differences that I have highlighted below:
- This time schools, colleges and universities will remain open;
- So will childcare settings (for registered childcare settings and wraparound care) - there is therefore a greater focus on supporting people to work (if they are in jobs where it is possible to do so).
- Outdoor playgrounds will also remain open this time.
- Outside exercise is permitted and encouraged. At present there is no time limit for this (you will recall that in March it was limited to one hour) and people are permitted to meet one person from outside their household at this time, observing social distancing (thanks to my lobbying, children under school age and with severe disabilities are exempted allowing two parents from different families to meet).
- Courts remain open and both civil and criminal hearings should proceed as scheduled
- Funerals are permitted (with groups of up to 30).
- Places of worship will be kept open for private prayer but not for ceremonies or services.
- Overnight stays anywhere are not permitted unless for work.
- Further guidance is coming on care home visits
The Chancellor has announced his first raft of further financial support. The furlough scheme which officially ended yesterday is now extended and anyone furloughed will be entitled to 80% of pay on the same basis as before. This replaces the Job Support Scheme that had been created for the Winter months.
A further Treasury announcement today concerns mortgages. Anyone who has not yet taken advantage of, or fully completed, the six-month payment holiday on their mortgage is entitled to do so with immediate effect.
I anticipate further financial announcements will be made tomorrow. For now, I attach the most recent guidance which has fuller detail of last night's announcement.
To come back on a few other questions you have raised:
- You can meet one person from another household in an outdoor setting. If you have pre-school age children they do not count towards this figure - so parents with new babies or toddlers are not isolated at home. Mother and baby groups have an exemption if not in private homes.
- I'm sorry to say that it has been confirmed that swimming pools, gyms, tennis and golf courses are to close. Matt Hancock is referring this back to the Chief Medical Officer and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to see what more can be done.
- Driving lessons/ Dog Groomers / Libraries - I have taken this up and am awaiting a further update.
- House moves can continue as normal for both renters and homeowners. Removal vans and estate agents can operate. Construction work can and should continue. Tradesmen - electricians, plumbers etc. are entitled to enter homes and work. Subject to COVID-19 safety measures.
- You are permitted to exercise outside as much as you wish. You can also drive to places to exercise.
- Residents have asked me about car shops and garages, and whether they can take appointments to ensure all residents have the appropriate transportation options. I will be raising this forthwith with colleagues. MOTs are considered essential, as is vehicle repair.
- Further financial support: for any business required to close grants are available:
- For properties with rateable values of less than £15,000 grants of £1334 are available;
- For properties with rateable values of between £15,000 and £51,000 grants of £2000 per month are available;
- For properties with rateable values above £51,000 grants of £3000 per month are available.
SUPPORT FOR SELF EMPLOYED:
The Chancellor has announced today an increase in support for the self-employed from 40% of trading profits to 80% for November. SEISS is calculated over 3 months so this increases the total grant from 40% to 55% of trading profits for November to January and the max grant increases to £5,160.
Grants will also be paid faster than previously planned with the claims window opening at the end of November rather than the middle of December. The increase means £4.5bn of support for the self-employed between November and January. I will share more details on this specifically once they are ready.
The Government needs to take more steps to control the virus and keep cases and hospital admissions down. I want your input on how the Government should achieve this, and I would very much appreciate your input on the following survey before Wednesday’s vote: