For my part, there are a number of steps I will be taking as Southport’s MP to assist the effort to combat the virus in our town.
I am in daily contact with the Chief Executive of Southport Hospital and Sefton Council about local COVID-19 cases and their capacity to treat the problem effectively. I am also working with colleagues in Parliament to ensure those updates from our hospital are listened to by the government.
I have also spoken with the Chancellor about the support that is being offered to small businesses, particularly the hospitality sector (restaurants, bars, pubs, and nightclubs). Following the advice issued by the government yesterday to avoid group gatherings as much as possible, I understand that those businesses are concerned that the government's advice is voluntary, and therefore they are not able to claim on their insurance. I am lobbying the government to adjust their position so that those businesses affected can make a claim, and I am continuously reviewing government advice to ensure businesses are well-served during this crisis.
I have written to all supermarket managers in Southport asking them to put in place adequate provision to prevent customers stockpiling products, which has left many older residents in our town simply unable to purchase essential. Whilst some residents will have no difficulty traveling between supermarkets when items are out-of-stock, there are a significant number of residents in our town who are elderly, or unable to drive, and who travel by taxi. Please bare these residents in mind when you are visiting a supermarket store in the coming days and weeks.
The Police also have an extreamely important role to fill in dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, and ensuring that we are all keeping to the lockdown instructions from the government. I am in contact with Southport and Merseyside Police regarding this.
Following the recent announcements and advice from both the Government and the NHS, I have taken the sad but necessary decision to suspend all my upcoming constituency surgeries and events for the foreseeable future.
While this is really disappointing for me and my team, we will continue to engage through email, phone, and social media - although response times may be slightly longer than usual due to the volume of enquiries we've been having.
We will continue to help all those who ask for it. The health and wellbeing of Southport residents is my top priority at this time. I look forward to being able to start my surgeries again.