This morning, Catherine and Northern Labour MPs have written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care requesting urgent clarification on a number of issues in relation to the forthcoming coronavirus restrictions in the North East.
Please see the text of the letter below:
Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP
Secretary of State
Department for Health and Social Care
39 Victoria Street
17 September 2020
Dear Secretary of State,
We are writing to you in light of the announcement that there are to be further interventions relating to covid-19 in Sunderland, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland and County Durham local authority areas, and to request urgent clarification on a number of key issues:
– What data will or will not be available to the local authorities, at a household level, in relation to those who have tested positive for the virus, and will they have access to contact tracing data?
– What strategy is in place to provide additional testing capacity in the region as a result of the increased need; what criteria will be used for targeted testing and prioritisation; and how will the government restore trust in a system that is directing those with symptoms to testing facilities hundreds of miles away?
– What consideration has been given to financial support for businesses which are forced to close down or limit the way they operate as a result of the new restrictions?
– As the Job Retention Scheme is being pulled away, will you urge the Chancellor to bring forward targeted wage support for hard hit sectors of the economy to ensure those affected have jobs to return to once restrictions are eased?
– What additional resources and powers do you intend to provide to local authorities in order to allow them to target measures to reduce the infection rate?
We agree that restrictions must be put in place in order to protect public health, and prevent the further spread of covid-19, and we support measures taken in order to save lives.
We do however believe that this must be done in close collaboration with local authorities, who must have access to all appropriate information, data and support in order to make the best decisions for their areas.
We look forward to your reply to our urgent questions.
Julie Elliott MP
Chair, PLP Northern Group of Labour MPs