Statement about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

“The spread of Coronavirus has heightened over the two weeks, so it is vitally important that we all stay safe, as best protected as we can and help those around us. The level of support and the generosity from people across the Keighley and Ilkley constituency wishing to lend support for those self-isolating since recent measures have been announced has been incredible. I have been contacted by a significant number of individuals, businesses, community groups, elected officials and voluntary personnel who are all offering help and are putting plans in place to assist the most vulnerable in our communities. My thanks go out to all who are going above and beyond to help one another in this difficult time.

“On Monday 23 March the Prime Minister announced new rules on staying at home and away from others. The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection. That is why the government is now (23 March 2020) introducing three new measures:

  1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes.
  2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces.
  3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public

Every citizen must comply with these new measures. The relevant authorities, including the police, will be given the powers to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings. These measures are effective immediately. The Government will look again at these measures in three weeks and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.

“Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading. It is particularly important for people who are 70 or over, for pregnant woman; for those with some health conditions, and people with a weakened immune system.

“It is the little things that will make a big difference to combatting the spread of Coronavirus. The following measures are important;

  •  like wash your hands with soap and water often and for at least 20 seconds.
  • always washing your hands when you get home or into work.
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.
  • avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus.
  • only travel on public transport if absolutely necessary.
  • work from home unless it is absolutely critical for you to attend your place of work.
  • and use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services.

“Little things like this – if done in mass – will have a huge impact on our overall national response to this virus and will save lives.

“It is important that you do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean. You must not come into contact with with anybody outside your household – including close family and friends for at least the next three weeks. I appreciate that measures like this seem extreme, however they will help protect us, and vulnerable people around us, against Coronavirus and will alleviate pressure on our NHS.

“In the budget earlier this month, the Chancellor set out a £20 billion package of temporary measures to support public services, individuals and businesses through the economic disruption caused by Coronavirus. These were enhanced by the Chancellor in a statement released on 17 March to include:

  • increasing the amount businesses can borrow through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £1.2 million to £5 million, and ensuring businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as Government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments;
  • support for liquidity amongst large firms, with a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England to help them bridge Coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans;
  • giving all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months;
  • increasing grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000;
  • providing further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000.

“Mortgage lenders have agreed they will support customers that are experiencing issues with their finances as a result of Coronavirus, including through payment holidays of up to 3 months. This will give people the necessary time to recover and ensure they do not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage in the interim. Confirmation that government advice to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres etc. is sufficient for businesses to claim on their insurance where they have appropriate business interruption cover for pandemics in place.

“All of these measures amount to a financial package of £350 billion to assist public services, individuals and businesses through the economic disruption caused by Coronavirus. I expect further packages to be announced in the coming days.

“To support the food industry and the food supply system, the government is in active talks with supermarkets to ensure the food supply system remains robust. It is significantly important that people do not panic buy as this creates an unnecessary strain on the food supply system. The government is relaxing planning regulations to allow pubs and restaurants to start providing takeaways without a planning application.

“Advice and guidance from government on both health precautionary measures and the financial support mechanisms that are being put in place are constantly being updated Please do visit and follow the appropriate link at the top of the page for the latest advice.

“On a local level, I have set up a volunteer’s database on my website to encourage people from all around the constituency to sign up and support the most vulnerable in our communities. Since being launched, I have had a significant level of interest. The volunteer’s database will be passed to local voluntary groups who are organising food collections, deliveries and support services to the most vulnerable in our society. You can register as a volunteer on my website: