You can read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo Column below or on the Sunderland Echo website
It has been just over a week since the Prime Minister addressed the nation and placed limitations on when people can leave the house.
As a reminder, people are only allowed to leave their home for the following purposes:
- Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible;
- One form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of your household;
- Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
- Travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.
The Covid-19 pandemic is an uncertain time for everyone. People are anxious about their health, their finances and their jobs. We all have a part to play in not spreading the virus, ensuring our NHS is not overwhelmed and enabling the most vulnerable in society to be protected for at least 12 weeks.
I was therefore alarmed to receive so many emails from my constituents who have been told by their employer that they must still go to work, despite not being classed under the latest guidelines from the Government as a “key worker” or working for an “essential business”.
Due to the large volume of constituents who have written to me about this, I have published an open letter to non-essential businesses that are still operating in my constituency.
I ask them to consider 5 things:
1) Can the work be done from home?
2) Is the business operation absolutely necessary, is it classed as an “essential business”?
3) Is it contributing towards the national effort to slow the spread of Covid-19?
4) Does the business support the NHS in the response to Covid-19, or any of the critical sectors as outlined by the Government?
5) What is worth more: the health of employees and their family, or the short-term financial gain from continued business operations?
We all have a part to play in preventing the spread of Covid-19 and that includes businesses.
I know that the guidance from the Government in the majority of areas, not just on businesses, lacks clear clarification.
That is why I have written to the Government to ask for clarification on a number of issues on behalf of constituents including guidance for non-essential businesses, people employed by agencies and those on zero hours contracts.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way all of us live our lives, but I will continue to represent the constituents of Washington and Sunderland West and help them in any way that I am able to as the local MP. If any of my constituents have any concerns or require any assistance, then please do contact me on [email protected] with your full name and postal address.