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  • Sarah Olney MP

Richmond and Kingston Covid-19 Update: May 28

Today sees the launch of the Government’s new Test and Trace program which we hope will allow for a more targeted approach to lockdown so that we can start to restore some more of our freedoms. 


Through a combination of tracers, local public health experts, and digital technology, the contact tracing service will trace identified contacts of people who have tested positive for coronavirus. 


Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus must isolate for at least seven days. You can stop self-isolating after 7 days if either your symptoms have gone, or you just have a cough or changes to your sense of smell or taste as these symptoms can last for weeks after the infection has gone. Keep self-isolating if you continue to have other symptoms Self-isolate for 14 days if you live with someone who has symptoms, has tested positive or is waiting for a test result. But from today, everyone with symptoms should ask for test either online here or by phone (call 119).


Tracers will text, email or call people who have tested positive with coronavirus and ask who they have had contact with. Any of those contacts deemed at risk of infection will be told to isolate for 14 days, even if they are not showing symptoms of the virus.


Even though the isolation measure is voluntary, I would urge you to follow the request to help minimise the continued spread of infection.



PM MUST INSTRUCT HOME SECRETARY TO LIFT ‘NO RECOURSE TO PUBLIC FUNDS’ RULE FOR CORONAVIRUS CRISIS


Following the Prime Minister's appearance at the liaison committee, where he stated he would "see what we can do to help” those with no recourse to public funds, Liberal Democrats are now urging him to instruct the Home Secretary to lift this rule which has been particularly damaging during the coronavirus crisis. It is preventing many families who have lost their livelihoods overnight from accessing the Universal Credit safety net.



CORONAVIRUS STATUTORY SICK PAY REBATE SCHEME


The Government’s Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme is now live. Employers with fewer than 250 employees can now claim for Coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

The repayment will cover up to two weeks of the applicable rate of SSP. For more information on eligibility and how to make a claim please visit here.



PUBLIC TRANSPORT SUPPORT


The Department of Transport has announced this week they are making £283m available to help operators increase the number of bus and light rail services. It will help people across the country to travel to hospitals, supermarkets, or their place of work safely, with enough space to follow social distancing guidelines. 

They have also stationed 3,400 people, including British Transport Police Officers, Network Rail and train operator staff, in major transport hubs, to advise passengers and make sure people can follow the guidance put in place. This will be boosted in June by volunteer groups to keep the system moving and provide advice and reassurance to passengers. 

A new information service for rail passengers will also be launched called ‘Passenger Connect’. This will tell travellers how disruption and crowding may affect their trips. It will provide alternative routes, helping people maintain social distancing when they need to travel.



ADVICE FROM AGE UK


The amount of information, and sometimes misinformation, about Covid-19 can be quite overwhelming for people who are trying to do the right thing during the pandemic. Age UK’s website is up to date with the latest advice from Government and NHS, covering everything from:

  • Getting shopping and medication

  • Visiting loved ones

  • When to self-isolate

  • Volunteering

  • Advice around caring

You can read these frequently asked questions here.

Find your local Age UK and see what support you can give here.



COMMUTER CYCLISTS IN RICHMOND PARK


I have received lots of emails from constituents requesting details of when commuter cyclists will be able to return to Richmond Park. I have been in constant contact with the Royal Parks team and we hope to share with you some encouraging news in the coming days.



RETURN TO SCHOOL


Since the lockdown, schools have remained open for vulnerable children and those of keyworkers, including during school holidays and on bank holidays. Schools have worked hard, taking innovative approaches to support their pupils with learning at home and have made sure the most vulnerable families have been able to access food parcels, vouchers and other support – including laptops to those most in need.


In line with the Government guidance, schools are working to make sure they have all the safety measures in place so that they can welcome pupils back from Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.


Richmond and Kingston Councils have been working with school leaders to assess and plan how they might be able to do this making sure it is safe for children and school staff.

This is likely to look different in each school to reflect the staff they have available, the nature of the school building and the number of year groups they need to accommodate. All of this will also be informed by a detailed risk assessment.


Parents and carers will have received a letter from the Director of Children’s Services and the Director of Education informing them of this approach.


The final decision on whether to invite pupils back will rest with schools and academy trusts. Schools will communicate directly with parents and carers, keeping them informed of any changes to the current planning.


Further information from the government for parents and carers can be found here: What parents and carers need to know.



KINGSTON NEWS


Many of you may have seen Kingston featured on BBC News this week as part of a piece on the challenges around reopening businesses. The piece highlights the many issues around enabling people to shop and move around high streets and town centre locations safely.

Many premises are open already for takeaways and limited shopping, whilst others are not designed to enable this safely. Not least of these is the difficulty of opening toilet facilities with any degree of confidence that they can be used in a way that enables cleanliness and social distancing. A number of people have raised this with me so I wanted to assure you that Kingston Council are looking at this alongside colleagues from Kingston First and businesses across the borough, but it remains challenging. 


A key part of reopening with any degree of success will be asking people to respect and be considerate to each other. Things will be very different, and we will need to work together to share the space and keep each other safe. 


Kingston Council are also increasing the number of protected walking and cycling routes across the borough to make our public spaces safer and encourage greener travel. They will continue to look at these and add to them as businesses continue to open. If you have any suggestions please let the sustainable transport team know - sustainable.transport@kingston.gov.uk



JOHN LEWIS REOPENING


Following the Government’s guidance on easing restrictions for non-essential retailers earlier this week, John Lewis in Kingston will be opening on Monday 15th June.


Learning from the social distancing measures they have taken in Waitrose shops, they plan to open with rigorous safety and social distancing measures in place.

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