I would like to thank all those in the frontline fighting this global pandemic: our NHS staff who are battling this virus and who know that the demands on them will rise, even as colleagues of theirs have to self-isolate or require medical treatment themselves. We are all deeply indebted to those who are working today and the over 7,000 clinicians who have answered the call to go back into the profession to help their colleagues.
We all have a role in supporting them. For some this role is very apparent: in particular we are grateful to Heads and teachers who are keeping local schools and nurseries open for the children of key workers. There are many others who are doing their utmost to support the community through tasks great and small, professional or voluntary: that support will be increasingly important in the weeks ahead.
I write on Monday night, immediately after the Prime Minister’s announcement of the most serious restrictions a UK Government has ever had to impose on its people in peacetime. No one likes it but we all, I hope, recognise how necessary this step is to protect our people and our NHS. Without flattening the curve of infection this virus threatens to overwhelm the NHS, as it has the sophisticated healthcare systems of other Western countries: this is not simply a matter of protecting those most vulnerable to Covid-19, it is protecting every one of us who may need medical care in the weeks ahead and it is us doing our utmost to help our doctors and nurses.
The restrictions are very real, they are also very necessary to get this virus under control. The vast majority of people have behaved extremely well and many are offering support to neighbours and the vulnerable, friends and strangers alike. If anything good was to come of this awful disease perhaps that could be a positive legacy.
Less edifying has been some of the scenes in supermarkets.
Not all of the increase in purchases is inexplicable – more meals are now being eaten in the home than was the case – however many have bought for more items than can possibly be necessary.
British retailers estimate that consumers have bought massively more food than is normal – on a purely practical level there is no reason for that scale of purchases to continue. What's more, more food is being produced and we have made it easier for it to be delivered to shops.
I welcome the fact that to help supply supermarkets have placed restrictions on purchasing multiple items, as well as introducing designated shopping hours for the vulnerable and key workers. Some shops have been recruiting significantly to expand their deliveries and are giving priority to the most vulnerable.
The Government is working with others to ensure that the most vulnerable who are being shielded and need support with essentials will receive it.
If you are such person who may need help Horsham District Council are asking you to register with them. You can do so using the following link: https://digital.horsham.gov.uk/outreach/coronavirusrequest.ofml. Mid Sussex District Council are also providing information on support that is available via https://www.midsussex.gov.uk/about-us/coronavirus-covid-19/.
Clearly this is a rapidly evolving situation please do check NHS and Government websites for update information: the key links are on on my website.