LISA NANDY: Public's reaction to pandemic 'truly inspiring'
The public reaction to coronavirus over the last few weeks has been truly inspiring.
Faced with the most serious public health emergency in our lifetime, you have shown immense spirit and determination, followed the official advice, and helped save thousands of lives.
It has meant having our lives turned upside down, but we know the alternative would be even worse.
Despite the tireless commitment and dedication of our NHS and frontline staff, too many lives have been lost to this virus.
The last two months have seen over 40,000 more people die across the UK than would normally be expected for this time of year.
This includes those who died after being diagnosed with coronavirus, those who died from it without being formally diagnosed, and those that died from other causes who would normally not have done so without the extra pressure on our health and social care services.
Of course, many of you have experienced this first-hand here in Wigan.
The grief is further compounded by not being able to be with your loved ones when they pass and not being able to gather with the rest of your family and friends to commemorate and celebrate their lives.
These quiet sacrifices are not going unappreciated or unacknowledged, and my heart goes out to those of you who have had to go through this.
It is inevitable that the longer we live under these restrictions, the more the question of “how long?” will be asked.
The Prime Minister announced a slight variation to the rules on Sunday and outlined some of the steps he thinks will be necessary to slowly unlock the country.
Unfortunately, as has been too often the case during this crisis, many have been left with more questions than answers.
Every day, I speak to people who are desperately worried about their jobs.
Some have children or other caring responsibilities that make a return to work almost impossible.
Others are now anxious about how safe workplaces will be when they do return, and uncertainty about whether returning to work will risk their health and the safety of those they live with.
So it is a major problem that the Prime Minister’s guidance on going back to work should be so vague and announced with such little notice.
We should not be putting people in this position. The statistics show us that lower-paid workers in particular are most at risk from coronavirus, and unsurprisingly they will be the ones under the most pressure to get back to work.
Our need to earn should not be pitted against our priority to look after our families and our wellbeing.
The Prime Minister must do more to make it clear under what circumstances people should be returning to work. We are committed in the Labour Party to working constructively with the government.
So before we ask people to return to work, we should be sitting down together with business leaders, unions and health experts to devise national safety guidelines for workplaces.
Let’s get this right now. We simply can not allow this virus to regain a foothold in our workplaces, communities and homes.
As always, but particularly now in these most difficult of circumstances, if you need my help, please ask.
I can be contacted at [email protected] and on 01942 242047.
Stay safe and well, and if you can get out to clap for our key workers on Thursday evening, please do so – it is the least that they deserve and your solidarity means the world to them.
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