The Coronavirus crisis has seen a lot of ordinary people doing extraordinary things for others. You may have seen some examples of this in the pages of this newspaper as I’ve awarded my Citizen’s Awards over the past few months to people who have gone above and beyond during this crisis.
The things that these people are doing are fantastic, but it’s just as important for all of us to do the little things we can to make sure that the virus does not spread. This means things like limiting social contact, maintaining distance from others, washing hands and wearing masks where appropriate.
You will all have seen that cases here in Tameside have sharply increased in recent weeks and that is precisely why it’s so important to follow the guidelines that are in place. We need to do this to protect each other from the virus – particularly the elderly and vulnerable members of our community – but also to protect those businesses that have only just started to reopen following the lockdown.
I fully understand how difficult and frustrating some of the guidelines are; they have ruined many plans and made life less pleasant. However, if we don’t follow these rules the science tells us that cases will continue to rise and the outcome of this will be further restrictions and less freedom – something none of us want.
Unfortunately, communication from the Government (as well as administration of the test, track and trace) has been sadly inadequate, and there has been a lot of confusion throughout as to what exactly the rules are at a given time. I think it is worth noting, for instance, that the “rule of 6” that you will have heard a lot about will not be introduced here as the Government set specific local lockdown rules when it was introduced in Greater Manchester and other parts of the North West.
I’d encourage you all, therefore, to familiarise yourself with these guidelines and follow them closely to keep everyone safe. Meanwhile, in Parliament, I’ll continue to push the Government to improve their response to Coronavirus, make sure that everyone who needs a test can get one and that the appropriate support is in place for those whose jobs and businesses are at risk. We can, of course, get through the crisis but the best way to do this is by all working together.