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Coronavirus update Tuesday 7th April 2020

Leeds has 325 cases reported to date. Very sadly, 48 deaths have been recorded at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust.

Sunbathing and use of parks

As it is looking like a sunny Easter Weekend, concern is high that public parks and spaces will see a repeat of the breaches of last weekend that saw city parks closed and the threat of the removal of exercise as a legitimate reason to leave the house. I do not want to see that happen as exercise is extremely important for physical and mental health.

I believe it is down to Government but also everyone to explain properly the reasons for not sunbathing or loitering in parks at the moment. I try to do this in this article which I hope you will share widely.

NHS Volunteers

Due to the incredible number of people coming forward as NHS volunteers, it has been announced that volunteers will be available to be deployed much more widely than had originally been intended. It was anticipated that the volunteers would be available to support the 1.5million clinically vulnerable (shielded) people. However, it may now be possible for some of those volunteers to provide support to people who are self-isolating or telephone support to people at risk of loneliness as a result of self-isolating. Local government staff will be able to refer to these volunteers.

Personal Protection Equipment

We speak to organisations every day who are without adequate personal protection equipment (PPE). Suppliers are short and the open market is getting very expensive and unreliable. Getting PPE to those who need it most is Leeds City Council’s top priority. having anticipated receiving further stock at the weekend and for West Yorkshire that not now being due until Wednesday, local council leaders have joined me in raising again their frustration with the Secretary of State at the ongoing lack of delivery of vital PPE supplies.  This is a complex logistical task and military planners are assisting. With stocks coming via the West Yorkshire LRF, supplies will be co-ordinated by a central hub in Kirklees with PPE stocks divided up based on population relative size.

Rugby League Clubs

Working with my colleague Karl Turner MP, I am campaigning to support our struggling rugby league clubs during the coronavirus crisis. There is a petition here which I hope you will sign.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority

West Yorkshire Combined Authority is supporting the NHS in planning staff transport to and from the new Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate, including arrangements for additional Leeds-Harrogate train services. I have been in touch with hotels to find out about capacity for accommodating extra NHS staff.

Litter bins

Leeds City Council cannot currently empty all litter bins in the city. In order to enable staff to focus on more essential work, they are asking people to avoid using litter bins and to take litter home to put into black bins. Although we will continue to do our best to empty bins in parks and greenspaces that are used for exercising or dog walking, we would still ask people not to use these if it can be avoided and to take litter home.

Royal Mail staff safety

I co-signed on this letter to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to demand safer working conditions for Royal Mail staff who are working so hard during this pandemic.

Digital Parliament

I welcome a letter from Dr John Benger, the clerk of the House of Commons, which committed to working together to finding a solution that allows MPs to work remotely.

Dr Benger’s letter came in response to a letter signed by me and 153 Members of Parliament calling for a digital Parliament to be put in place by the time the house returns on April 21st

Care workers – access to Company Shop from yesterday

MORE than 150,000 Yorkshire care workers providing vital help through the Coronavirus crisis will be able to cut their shopping bill following a proposal from my colleague MP John Healey who had the idea to extend membership of Company Shop – which is usually open NHS, emergency services and FMCG workers – to care staff and took the proposal directly to Company Shop Group’s founder and chairman, John Marren.

Company Shop membership – which is free – allows them to buy top brands from the full range supermarket and producer food/products at an average 50% discount. You can check out the Company Shop on its website:

This was extended from Monday 6 April to 153 000 care workers in our Y&H region. It is open to all care workers: whether their employer is private, charity or council sector and whether they work in residential care or home care.


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