There is no doubt the measures the Government has undertaken and the restrictions imposed have changed all of our lives over the last few weeks and sadly they will have to continue for some time yet. Whilst scientists cannot entirely agree on some issues, there are some common sense factors we know. The virus is transmitted from person to person and the fewer people you come into contact with the lower your chances are of contracting it or passing it on.
On that basis we can see that what we are doing every day is making a difference and figures suggest that the increase in cases is slowing as a result, helping the NHS cope. So the message is don’t give up and don’t get bored of it, we need to carry on.
As you would expect, Somerset has been brilliant in playing its part in the national effort. I’ve been putting local company Honeywell in touch with the Government and regulatory agencies to approve their ventilator design which could contribute as many as 250-500 proper medical ventilators a week to the NHS. I have been working with Honeywell from the start on this because of their expertise in life support systems but others have also come forward with helpful suggestions for which I am thankful.
I have also been working with the Government to progress an orally administered COVID-19 vaccine developed here in the UK, that could get people inoculated more quickly and effectively than other solutions, through accelerated clinical trials. We must find ways to shorten the time we have to spend trying to suppress the virus so we can get back to our normal lives and kickstart the country’s economy.
The Government has been responding quickly to calls for help. I was pleased to see the package agreed for self-employed people as I had raised this with the Treasury, and it’s good that banks have agreed to waive personal guarantees for the Government backed business loans which was a cause of concern for a while. These measures are not giving money away and can’t compensate for all losses, but rather investing in our future; trying as much as possible to make sure our businesses and people are ready to spring back into action once the restrictions can be lifted.
Finally, I would like to repeat my thanks to all the workers keeping the country going at this most difficult time. Obviously the NHS and social care are foremost in our thoughts but also the delivery drivers, the supermarket employees, the little community shops that are a lifeline for their neighbours, the teachers still working to provide places for children of emergency workers or producing materials to be used for home-schooling and so many more. It is important for businesses that have not explicitly been asked to shut to keep going if they can. Traveling for work is allowed where working from home is not possible. We have not seen a time like this but we have not seen a response like this either and I am confident we are up to the challenge.