Many constituents have contacted me asking about the Coronavirus (Covid-19). I encourage everyone to keep up to date with and follow the advice provided by Public Health England available at http://www.gov.uk/phe.
The National Health Service have made preparations for pandemics such as this and the Health Secretary tells me they are planning for all eventualities.
The Government’s actions are informed by the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser. These two officials and their teams are in contact with a broad range of specialists in relevant fields and are feeding their recommendations back to the Prime Minister.
It is important to emphasise that decisions are being made based on the best scientific advice available. We should remember that the United Kingdom is a world leader in medical and scientific research and that our experts also have field experience from outbreaks of viruses and disease across the planet.
I know a lot of workers and business owners are rightly very concerned about the economic impact this virus will have. Last week the Chancellor of the Exchequer revealed his initial plans for dealing with this impact. Statutory Sick Pay is now available from Day One of illness instead of Day Four to encourage unwell workers to stay at home. Legislation will be brought forward to allow businesses with fewer than 250 employees to reclaim up to 14 days’ Statutory Sick Pay for absences due to Coronavirus.
The Business Rates retail discount will be raised to 100 per cent for one year and will be expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors, with a £5,000 rates discount for pubs with a ratable value below £100,000. Local authorities will receive a total of £2.2 billion to provide a £3,000 grant to help businesses meet their ongoing costs.
Self-employed people and businesses in financial distress may be eligible to receive support with tax affairs through HMRC’s Time to Pay service and the agency has set up a phone helpline at 08000159559.
But the most important thing is to limit the impact on people’s health and it is vital that people in Lincolnshire and around the country follow the advice provided by Public Health England.
I have confidence in the British people’s ability to deal with this crisis and I am hopeful that we will be able to minimise the harm the virus will do if we work together.