James Wild: Winning the fight allows us to open up
The latest column from the North West Norfolk MP during the pandemic period, Friday, July 24, 2020
Face coverings. An infringement of civil liberties or a necessary step to protect the spread of the virus? My mailbag reflects both views.
A poll found that 80 per cent of people supported the compulsory wearing of face coverings in shops.
Although people have different views, from today is it is obligatory to do so. The reason is simple. Covid-19 can be spread by droplets from coughs, sneezes, and speaking. Scientific advice is that when used correctly wearing a face covering reduces the spread of Covid-19. It is about helping to keep the virus under control.
For three weeks now, the number of new cases identified through testing each day has been below 1,000. At the time of writing, there has only been one positive Covid-19 test in West Norfolk this month. The latest SAGE advice is that, across the UK, the R rate remains between 0.7 and 0.9.
That has allowed us to reopen more parts of our economy with anybody now able to use buses or trains, while considering alternative means of transport where they are available.
Under these plans from August 1, beauty salons will be able to carry out facial treatments. This is a welcome move. This is an issue I pressed ministers on after I visited No.4 Hair and Beauty salon to see the safety measures they have in place.
Wedding receptions can take place for up to 30 people – this sector is important for jobs and I’m encouraging this limit to be increased as soon as it is safe to do so. Weddings are ideal for trace and test as everyone’s addresses are known.
Most remaining leisure attractions, including ten pin bowling alleys will open. Indoor performances to a live audience will also restart, subject to the success of pilots.
From October, crowds in stadia may be allowed – subject to the successful outcomes of cricket, horse-racing and other pilots.
For now, sadly soft play areas and nightclubs do not have a date when they can reopen. I am raising the need for a roadmap for these businesses too.
As part of this recovery plan, there is also a change to the guidance on workplaces. Employers will be able to decide how to ensure employees can work safely – that may be from home, but workplaces can be made Covid-secure. As ever, these changes are conditional on everyone staying alert and acting responsibly.
In addition to the focus on recovery, the House of Commons this week passed the Trade Bill. This legislation allows trade agreements with 20 countries to be rolled over from the EU now we have left, protects companies from unfair trade practices, and ensures access to £1.3 trillion of overseas government contracts.
Unfortunately, myths about this Bill have caused concerns.
Let me reassure everyone that: scrutiny and votes on trade deals will continue; food standards are protected, with hormone beef and chlorinated chicken banned; and tired claims that the NHS is on the table in any trade deal are totally false.
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