Grahame Morris MP has made representations to Health Secretary Matt Hancock about the introduction of tighter Covid-19 restriction measures in Sunderland, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland and County Durham.
In a letter coordinated by Julie Elliot MP, the Chair of the Northern Group of Labour MPs, signatories request clarification on a number of key issues, including:
- What data will or will not be available to the local authorities, at a household level, in relation to those who have tested positive for the virus, and will they have access to contact tracing data?
- What strategy is in place to provide additional testing capacity in the region as a result of the increased need; what criteria will be used for targeted testing and prioritisation; and how will the government restore trust in a system that is directing those with symptoms to testing facilities hundreds of miles away?
- What consideration has been given to financial support for businesses which are forced to close down or limit the way they operate as a result of the new restrictions?
- As the Job Retention Scheme is being pulled away, will you urge the Chancellor to bring forward targeted wage support for hard hit sectors of the economy to ensure those affected have jobs to return to once restrictions are eased?
- What additional resources and powers do you intend to provide to local authorities in order to allow them to target measures to reduce the infection rate?
Signatories stress the need for close collaboration with local authorities, and insist that they must have access to all appropriate information, data and support in order to make the best decisions for their areas.
Grahame Morris MP said, “I know the concern that this announcement will cause. It is vital that local authorities are provided with the resources and information that they need to able to target measures effectively, and bring down the infection rate. I would also urge the Health Secretary to provide much-needed clarity to local businesses who will be impacted, especially as we approach the end of the Job Retention Scheme.”