As we enter phase two of our carefully planned timetable for lifting restrictions, it is of the utmost importance that we stay alert so that the Government's science backed pathway can properly take effect. The timetable depends on controlling the spread of the virus. If the evidence illustrates that sufficient progress is not being made, then the restrictions will stay in place for longer.
From 1 June, the Government intends a cautious, phased reopening of nurseries and primary schools starting with reception, Year 1 and Year 6, and then, from 15 June, we will be ensuring that secondary pupils with exams next year get some time with their teachers before their summer holidays. Similarly, the Government’s intention is also to allow outdoor markets and car showrooms to reopen from 1 June, as the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor and more open spaces. All other non-essential retail will be expected to be able to reopen in a phased way from 15 June if the Government’s five tests are met and these companies follow the Covid-19 secure guidelines, giving them three weeks to prepare.
These measures that will come to fruition in the coming month represent the first careful steps on the ladder towards economic renewal and the return of stability. Like all of you I will be doing all I can to obey the clear guidance on social distancing, so that we can reap the fruits of our sacrifice as early and as safely as possible.
In response to the fast moving and developing situation, the Government has constantly been reviewing and interrogating its generous provisions to ensure that they are as up to date and dynamic as possible. That is why this month we have introduced some of the following measures to encourage steady upward growth and economic mobility:
Future Fund: - An injection of £500,000 million, helping high-growth businesses access investment. UK-based companies can now apply for a convertible loan of between £125,000 and £5 million, to support continued growth and innovation in sectors as diverse as technology, life sciences and the creative industries.
Communities Funding: - Local authorities around the country have received almost £27bn since the beginning of the pandemic. This extra funding has made a difference to the lives of many people in Fareham: in the form of grants, business rates relief and direct support, on a scale that is unprecedented in living memory.
High Street Fund: - The Government has announced a new £50 million fund for councils across England to prepare for the safe reopening of high streets and other retail spaces, helping to support livelihoods, to get people back to work and customers back to the shops.
Transport Injection – Hampshire will benefit from £4,316,000 to make roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists. The area has been allocated its share of the £250 million announced earlier this month to fast-track plans for new walking and cycling lanes. This includes £25 million which will fund vouchers for cycle repairs, to encourage people to get their old bikes out of the shed and resume cycling.
Westminster and Constituency Offices:
During this time of crisis it is of the utmost importance that we all do our bit to help and support our local community. That is why my team and I have been incredibly busy working to assist thousands of residents in Fareham:
- Overseas Travel - I have helped to secure visa extensions for a number of constituents and I have successfully lobbied Royal Caribbean to safely secure the return of a Fareham resident. Similarly I was pleased to help ensure refunds for several in the community whose holidays had been cancelled due to the virus.
- Mental Health - Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. That is why this month I was pleased to publish my mental health guide. It includes detailed research and information on how to look after yourself in this troubling time, as well as my 6 point programme to mental well-being in the home. You can find the guide on my Facebook page.
- Acts of Kindness - I recently met with the Fareham charity Acts of Kindness to voice my support for all they have been doing for the community during the pandemic. They provide an extremely valuable service and i am looking forward to working closely alongside them in the coming months to deliver Fareham the support it deserves.
- Here For You - In this difficult time I know that many people are anxious and in need of support. Whilst I have not been able to meet people, I've spoken to many residents via my monthly surgeries on the phone and my team, Bill, Katherine, Guy and Sarah have been working round the clock to support you. By way of estimate, we have responded to nearly 3500 enquiries since this pandemic started.
Please do not hesitate to get in contact with myself or my office. Also please see my newly updated website for more information. We are here to help.