Today marks the sad news that we now have the highest death toll in Europe. Behind each death is a grieving family and my thoughts as ever are with them.
The Prime Minister suggested on Friday that face masks or face coverings are likely to be more commonplace as the lockdown restrictions ease. And published medical opinion is increasingly suggesting that they will help in terms of reducing the spread of this virus. If medical advice in the UK changes, it is important that the Government has a plan to ensure that we are producing, procuring and distributing enough face masks, so that everybody has access to them. Some medical and scientific advisers are suggesting that this will mean we need approved face masks – and that simply wearing scarves or homemade face coverings will not be sufficient. If this is the case, the Government must do much more to ensure there is no competition between supply for frontline workers and members of the public. Those working on the frontline in the NHS and in care must be the priority, and the crisis in PPE supply we’re already seeing simply mustn’t be worsened. I suspect there will be a different sort of face covering or mask for the general public, and the Government must make sure they are made available and distributed widely as soon as they are needed.
Grants for business
Leeds has been a national leader in administering the Government’s grants for small businesses. With over £120 million in grants paid so far. But, not every application is straightforward. The team is now dealing with a significant volume of complex cases. Please do not send repeat emails to the team. This is adding to the volume of correspondence officers are dealing with. You can find advice for local businesses affected by covid-19 here on the business pages on the website.
Reset and Recovery
Resuming key services remains a big issue within Leeds and beyond, including waste, public transport and working from home. Leeds City Council is establishing a broad framework to ensure the city is safe. This means prioritising safe public transport, safe public spaces, safe services and safe work environments. Conversations are ongoing within all organisations and through multi-agency groups. Leeds aims to be as ready as possible for national guidance. We expect this phase will be very difficult.