Friday, 12 June 2020

Changes to the lockdown restrictions over the coming days

It is now almost three months since the lockdown was first implemented. People have supported these rules overwhelmingly, and we are past the peak of this awful virus. This has been a very difficult time for our country, and many thousands of people have very sadly lost their lives.

As your local MP, I am here to help in any way I can. In March, I launched a Coronavirus website to provide up to date advice and support to individuals, businesses and employers. The site contains a huge amount of information, from the financial support available, to explaining how to apply for a test, and Frequently Asked Questions on what you can and can't do.

The government has already taken careful steps to start to ease the lockdown. You can now go for as much exercise as you like and drive to other places, visit a garden centre or outdoor market, and meet with up to six other people from another household outdoors - provided you maintain social distancing. Over the next few days, there will be further changes which I have set out below:

From tomorrow, Saturday 13th June: 

Adults living alone, or single parents with children under 18 can form a support bubble with one other household.

Everyone in the support bubble can act as if they live in the same household - meaning they can spend time together inside each other's homes and do not need to stay 2 meters apart. These support bubbles must be exclusive, meaning you should not switch the household you are in a bubble with, or connect with multiple households.

From Monday 15th June

From Monday, non-essential retail and department stores - including many businesses on Hexham's High Streets - can reopen. This includes book shops, electronic retailers, tailors, auction houses, photography studios, indoor markers and shops selling clothes, shoes and toys.

Businesses will need to make sure it has undertaken a COVID-19 risk assessment and shared the results with employees, make sure that regular handwashing and cleaning takes place, and maintain a 2m distance where possible. I know that Northumberland County Council are working with businesses and shops to give them the support they need to re-open safely.

Zoos and safari parks, and outdoor attractions such as drive-in cinemas can also re-open, as well as places of worship for individual prayer - in line with social distancing guidelines.

From Monday, it will also be mandatory to wear a face-covering on public transport, including the train. This is not the same as a surgical mask or respirator used by healthcare workers as part of PPE, but rather a cloth face covering. You can find out how to make one by clicking here. 

From July 4th

From early July, the government aims to re-open at least some of the remaining business premises that have been required to close. This will include hairdressers and beauty salons, restaurants, pubs, hotels and cinemas. These businesses - like retail - will need to follow COVID-19 Secure Guidelines.

All of these plans are dependent on the COVID-19 Alert Level and progress continuing to be made to reduce infection rates. We have made so much progress over the last few months, and we don't want to throw it away.

For more information on the specific support available, you can visit the links on my website below:

FAQ: What you can and can't do

Test and Trace 

Getting tested

Support for individuals

Support for businesses

Support for the self-employed

Support for farmers

As ever, please get in touch if you have any issues or concerns. My office is still physically closed - in line with government guidelines - but my small staff team are working from home. Email correspondence will be replied to in the usual way, post is being redirected and phone messages will be responded to.