Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation tonight (23rd March 2020) and announced the biggest crackdown on freedom of movement since the end of the Second World War; in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus and protect our NHS from being overwhelmed.
Chris Loder MP said: "While appreciating the immense change to our daily lives that this lockdown will bring, it must be welcomed. To put it simply, if too many people become seriously ill at one time, the NHS will not be able to cope – meaning more people are likely to die, not just from coronavirus but from other serious illnesses as well.
"This deadly virus is growing rapidly around the UK. Nearer home, the Hampshire County Council area has the highest number of cases of any local authority area in the country, with 171 cases reported on Monday. Already Dorset and the BCP area combined has 27 cases and, very sadly, last weekend West Dorset had its first death from coronavirus, at Dorchester County Hospital, and I send my sincere condolences to that family at this very difficult time for them."
All churches and places of worship are to close, with baptisms and weddings cancelled. Funerals will continue, subject to social distancing being observed and restrictions on the number of mourners attending. Every shop deemed to be non-essential will shut down and the lockdown will be reviewed every three weeks, but is likely to last for months.
Boris Johnson has said we will only be able to leave our homes for one of four reasons: 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. Gatherings of more than two people in public have also been stopped – excluding with the people you live with.
The Prime Minister said "You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say no. You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home. You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine – and you should do this as little as you can.
“If you don’t follow the rules, the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.”
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has released a list of shops and businesses which are exempt from the Prime Minister’s order to close down. They include:
- Supermarkets and other food shops
- Health shops
- Pharmacies, including non-dispensing pharmacies
- Petrol stations
- Bicycle shops
- Home and hardware shops
- Laundrettes and dry cleaners
- Car rentals
- Pet shops
- Corner shops and newsagents
- Post offices
Chris Loder's message to constituents is: "I am certain the communities of West Dorset, and the people of this country, will rise to this challenge. Together with the Prime Minister, I urge you all, at this moment of national emergency, to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives. These next few months will be like nothing we’ve experienced before. Care for your families, care for your neighbours and, above all, step up to care our wider community. We will get through this together and come out stronger."
[Watch Chris Loder's speech during the Coronavirus Bill Debate: https://youtu.be/eEqlarYePNE]