Worcester MP Robin Walker has urged residents in Worcester to comply with the new national measures which will come into force on Thursday 5th November and will last for a 4-week period up to 2nd December.

The government felt the need to bring in national measures because the infection rates have been rising in all parts of England including in regions where infection rates had been relatively low. The number of hospital admissions has also risen and the rate of people over 60 contracting the virus has increased, threatening greater pressure on the NHS.

Whilst Worcester has been consistently below the national average for Coronavirus cases, this number has been rising towards the national level in the past couple of weeks. Cases in Worcester have risen to 150 cases per 100,000, with the rate in England now 240 per 100,000. Walk-in testing is now available at the University of Worcester, Arena Car Park and the number of tests conducted locally has continued to rise but in recent weeks the positivity rate has increased.

Robin has welcomed Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – also known as the Furlough scheme – will remain open until December, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500.

In addition, business premises forced to close in England are to receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month under the Local Restrictions Support Grant. Also, £1.1bn is being given to Local Authorities, distributed based on £20 per head, for one-off payments to enable them to support businesses more broadly.

To give homeowners peace of mind too, mortgage holidays will also no longer end today.

Robin also welcomed today’s news that pubs can sell takeaway alcohol, with customers able to pre-order their drink online, or by phone or post, which can be collected if they do not enter the premises.

Speaking prior to the vote in parliament, Robin said:

“I totally recognise the concerns that the businesses and people in Worcester have with any further restrictions being put in place after the difficult year we have already had.”

“It is vital that support from the government such as the Furlough Scheme and grants and loans to help businesses that are temporarily closed has been extended.”

“It is also vital that we protect our NHS and its ability to treat people for all conditions not only those that are hospitalised with Covid.”

“I had hoped that Worcester’s rates of infection being consistently lower than the national average, we would be able to stay in the lowest tier and largely open for business, however, the last couple of weeks have seen a substantial increase in the numbers even here.”

“I recognise that the government is right to listen to NHS leaders and to act proactively to reduce the rate of both cases and admissions to hospital. I therefore support the package of measures being taken today.”

“I have raised the concerns of constituents both about communal worship and the need for independent businesses such as pubs to be able to go about their business in safe ways with ministerial colleagues.

“I am pleased that places of worship will remain open for individual private worship and pubs will have the opportunity to sell their product through click and collect and delivery services and I will continue to push for as much support to be available for everyone in Worcester, whether employers, employees or self-employed.”

“It is clear from the Chief Medical Officer’s advice that school is one of the safest places for children to be and I therefore support the extensive steps that have been taken locally to keep schools open safely. I hope within weeks we will see rates of infection in the UK coming down so we can get the economy as open as possible in the run up to Christmas. In the meantime, I would urge all constituents to respect the guidelines, stay safe and support our NHS”

ENDS

Notes to editors

For more information on the Chancellor’s support packages, please see:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/furlough-scheme-extended-and-further-economic-support-announced

For the advice of the CMO on school settings see:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/statement-from-the-uk-chief-medical-officers-on-schools-and-childcare-reopening

For the latest figures on Covid infection rates in Worcestershire see:

https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/cases

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-track-coronavirus-cases