This is a very difficult time for us all and as you can imagine I have received a substantial amount of correspondence on COVID-19, something which has meant working around the clock to get back to everybody who has contacted me. Coronavirus is the biggest threat we have faced in decades, which is why the Government is working to a scientifically-led, step-by-step action plan –taking the right measures at the right time. And having been briefed by the Chief Medical Officer, they have my full support in doing so. It is vitally important in this period that we rely on the world-class expertise we have in this country.
I know the disruption the actions being taken are having on people’s lives, businesses, jobs and the whole economy. And that’s why we have produced a huge and unprecedented programme of support both for workers and for business, and as your MP I will do everything I can to ensure people can pay their bills, stay in their home and put food on their table.
As we all now know, everyone must stay at home except for four specific reasons: shopping, one form of exercise a day, any medical need, and to travel to and from work - though only where this absolutely cannot be done from home. The Government’s rules do, therefore, allow people to leave their home for the purposes of travelling to and from work but only where work absolutely cannot be done from home.
I have received many emails and messages regarding some local employers since the Government advice changed to the above, including claims that a few companies have not yet adapted how they work, with working practices remaining the same and employees less than 6ft apart. As you will understand, this caused me great concern.
On the back of this, I have spoken with a number of employers, and visited the Boohoo site specifically this week to see for myself the measures that have been put in place to ensure employees are safe and able to follow the rules set out by Government.
You will be pleased to know that what I have seen is an extensive shift in the way businesses are operating, with the overriding priority being the protection of employees. The measures include prominent signage and floor markings to enforce the 6ft distance, staff who can work from home having been instructed to do so, hand sanitizer being readily available and enhanced cleaning routines.
Please rest assured, as your Member of Parliament, my priority is on ensuring your health and wellbeing, and the health and wellbeing of every person in our town. As such I will not hesitate to call out poor practice if and when I see it.
I, and the Government, have done everything possible to support businesses through this period. In return I expect employers to support their staff by following Government guidance and protecting as many jobs as possible. Whilst our overriding priority during this crisis is the protection of life, I also want to shield our economy from the worst effects of Coronavirus. Ensuring that when this period is over, we can continue to create a Burnley where we all want to live, study and work.