Rachael Maskell MP for York Central
Rachael Maskell MP for York Central

I need your help. York needs your help. Do not go out unless you absolutely have to. #KeepHomeKeepSafe.

I want York to get through this crisis safely, but this can only happen if we all do the right thing and stay in.

I know it is hard, the sun is shining and we feel fine. It goes against every human instinct to lock ourselves away and keep our distance, but we must.

Unlike other viruses, we have no natural immunity to fight Coronavirus and therefore it can be lethal, particularly to those with underlying health conditions or older residents, but none of us are immune. Fit, young and healthy people have ended up in critical care; some have died. However if we all isolate ourselves, wash our hands and catch our coughs and sneezes, we will be protected.

As we watch the heart-broken nations of Italy or Spain, we must heed their warning and stay in. It is the greatest act of kindness we can give.

Any of us could contract Coronavirus, it knows no boundary; any of us could pass it on, even if we are asymptomatic. Therefore we must isolate, and keep at least 2m apart – no exemptions.

As a city, I know that we will want to thank all those who are having to work at this time, especially in our NHS and Social Care services. Our shop workers are working so hard to ensure that there is food available, but we must be mindful that a sudden increase in demand means that some are going without. Let’s all be sensible and purchase what we need, and while we are at the shop, keep our distance.

I am working hard to ensure that those most in need also have access to food. Normally about 7% of the population shop on-line for food. Now most want to. There simply isn’t capacity. If anyone is struggling to access food because they are having to isolate or are ill, please get in touch. I am raising each case to ensure that no-one misses out.

I have been working round the clock to get the Government to step up its efforts. First of all, in my role as Shadow Secretary of State, I have been working with the Shadow Chancellor to make sure everyone has financial protections. Whether employed, unemployed or self-employed, we believe that all workers need a package of support to ensure that Statutory Sick Pay is raised to at least 90% of wages or the level of Real Living Wage, which amounts to about £512 per week; currently it is just £94.25 a week and millions of people aren’t able to access it.

We believe that this payment should be made to all those sick and isolating, including those self-isolating due to underlying health conditions.

Further we believe that employers must protect workers, not by sacking them or cutting their hours, but by claiming for 80% of their wages from the state wage protection programme, and in return guarantee their job, and wherever possible make up the 20% of wages difference. We need employers to be proactive in protecting people’s livelihoods, not cutting hours or wages, or even making people redundant. Businesses are facing unprecedented challenges, but so are workers.

No one should be in a position where they can’t pay their rent, for food or essentials like electricity or gas. We need to work together to make sure everyone is financially secure.

Many businesses have stepped up over the last few days, but so has the community. Thousands of people have checked up on their neighbours, put notes through letterboxes to ensure that they are alright. Some have volunteered to be part of the city’s effort to care for the most vulnerable, and some have come out of retirement and gone to work in the NHS to keep us safe.

I have called on the Business Secretary to ensure that everyone going to work is supplied with sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and that there is a national effort to manufacture more.

As a society at this unprecedented time, we must take care of ourselves and others. I will be speaking to residents through 3 weekly phone surgeries, taking up your issues, fighting your corner, getting things sorted nationally and locally, speaking to employers and organisations, talking to Ministers and Government officials and ensuring that York is safe. Already a number of people have contracted Coronavirus in York, I pray they make a full recovery. Let’s try and stop anyone else contracting Coronavirus.

Be a hero, play your part, don’t go out – #KeepHomeKeepSafe.


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