Coronavirus – guidance and advice

I have been contacted by a large number of constituents who are, understandably, concerned about the impact of Coronavirus on them and their families.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for our public health and our economy at an individual, local, national, and international level.

Last night’s lockdown announcement was a further first-time step taken by this country to try and combat the spread of the virus.

Below, I’ve compiled some key information and contacts which may be helpful during this period of uncertainty.

If you are in need of help or support during this period, you can contact the following groups for help and advice.

  • Citizens Advice 0344 411 1444
  • Samaritans: 116 123
  • Kirklees Council: 01484 221000
  • Royal Voluntary Service: 0330 555 0310
  • Childline: 0800 1111
  • Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247

NHS guidelines

The NHS has a plan to cope with the spread of the virus and has some essential advice for people on its website, here.

If you believe you may have contracted Coronavirus, you can check your symptoms via NHS 111’s online symptom checker, here.

Everyone is encouraged to wash their hands regularly with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.

Government guidelines

The UK Government has a helpful online Coronavirus hub, here.

It includes the latest “stay at home” (self-isolating) guidance here.

If you must go out, please follow the government guidelines on social distancing here.

There is also vital information for those who are extremely vulnerable and at increased risk here.

The full lockdown instructions can be found here.

It is important that we all play our part in helping to prevent the spread of this virus. The measures that the UK Government has put in place are there to protect us all – and particularly older and vulnerable people whom we may unknowingly pass the virus onto.

Strong adherence to the latest public health advice will also help to ensure that our NHS can cope with the likely increased demand over the coming days, weeks, and potentially months.

Support for employees

Many people are, understandably, concerned about their job situation as a result of the uncertainty around Coronavirus – particularly people on zero hours contracts and those unable to work due to self-isolation, social distancing and caring for members of their family. Others are facing losing their jobs as a result of this.

If you’ve recently been made unemployed, you can find out more about the support available here.

The rules regarding Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) have been updated in light of the Coronavirus outbreak. The latest changes are available here.

Most Banks and Energy suppliers are now putting into place support packages for loans and mortgage payments – please contact them in the first instance for advice.

You can also find out what financial support is available is you fall ill by clicking here.

School closures

With the announced school and nursery closures across the UK, I know that many parents are concerned about the amount of leave they may be able to take to look after their children.

You can find information about your rights to time off for dependants here. Please also check with your employer as some have more generous allowances than others.

The government has said that school provision will be made available for children of key workers (such as NHS workers, police and those charity workers involved in the Coronavirus response) and vulnerable children. See who qualifies as a key worker here. You will need to inform your child’s school or nursery if you are in this category and want to use this provision.

Panic buying

There have been reports of panic buying from supermarkets and lengthy waits for home delivery. The UK’s leading supermarkets have all clearly stated that there is enough food and household essential supplies to go around if everybody sticks to buying what they need. Many have put measures in place to try and manage this, including reserved time slots for older people and other groups and a 3 item limit on certain things.

Supermarket responses to Coronavirus

  • Aldi’s response here
  • Asda’s response here
  • Iceland’s response here
  • Lidl’s response here
  • Morrisons’ response here
  • Sainsbury’s response here
  • Tesco’s response here

Please also remember there are smaller shops across Batley and Spen many of which remain open and have the supplies you need.

Food Banks

Local food bank demand has increased in recent weeks and some have been affected by panic buying. Citizens Advice has a guide on how to get help from a food bank, here. It usually requires a referral from a health or social care professional or relevant support organisation.

In Batley and Spen we have Batley Food Bank, which can be contacted on info@batleyfoodbank.org.uk or by calling 01924 474999.

Please note the food bank has been affected by volunteers needing to self-isolate, shortages related to panic buying and needs support in the form of donations of money, food items and time (volunteering).

Community support

It’s been great to see so many people and organisations coming together to support the response to Coronavirus.

Kirklees Council is co-ordinating the effort and for information on how you can help and to register as a volunteer, click here, or email communities@kirklees.gov.uk

Pharmacies

Boots has written to me with information about the steps it is taking to cope with Coronavirus. It is limiting the number of people in store and implementing social distancing so people can be safe, and is installing clear plastic screens on its pharmacy counter.

It is expanding its free online repeat prescription service to make it easier for more people to access their medicine online, and these will be delivered to your home for free. Slots will be priorities for the vulnerable and elderly, and Boots is also expanding its delivery fleet.

Boots pharmacists are running regular Q&A sessions online and answering questions on social media to give people the advice they need, and in store staff are working flat out to give people the service they need.

To access the online pharmacy service, click here.

Travel advice

The Government has advised against non-essential travel on public transport. Local public transport services (buses and trains) are running reduced services with extra measures in place to help tackle the spread of Coronavirus. For the latest information visit the Arriva website here

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all non-essential international travel. If you are currently overseas on holiday or seeking to return from a period abroad, you are advised to contact your airline or travel company. You are also able to contact the FCO by calling (0)207 008 1500.

My office is doing all it can to try and speed up the repatriation process for constituents stuck abroad.

Support for businesses

Kirklees Council is publishing regular updates on its website, including information about changes to council services while social distancing measures are in place.

The Chancellor has also announced a raft of support packages for businesses to help them through this period of uncertainty.

For the latest updates, please see here

Please note that the UK Government has indicated that the package of support available will be reviewed as the outbreak continues.

Constituency surgeries

In line with current public health advice, constituency surgeries and Talk to Tracy events are cancelled for the foreseeable future, as are face-to-face community engagements.

My team and I are continuing to work hard responding to the issues and concerns of constituents as quickly as possible and can still be reached by emailing tracy.brabin.mp@parliament.uk

I hope that you and your family stay safe during this difficult time – please do reach out for help if you need it. The community response to this situation has been heartening. Together, we can ensure that we support those who need help.

Tracy

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