Updated 29th May 2020, 17:28. For the latest medical advice, visit NHS.uk/Coronavirus.
On the left hand side of this page (or at the bottom, if you're on a mobile device) you can see a number of links which set out the support for businesses and individuals, as well as more information on the Coronavirus outbreak
Flexible Furloughing and extension to the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced to extend the Coronavirus Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, with those eligible able to claim a second and final grant capped at £6,570.
Details on the extension to the Job Retention Scheme have also been announced, with employers able to use flexible furloughing to bring back employees part-time from July, with a new taper system meaning employers can contribute modestly to furloughed workers salaries from August.
Meeting family and friends outdoors
At today's Coronavirus Daily Press Conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced new measures so people family and friends, providing they are maintaining social distancing.
From Monday, you can meet up to six people in a public place, or in a garden, providing you are maintaining social distancing.
Retail to open throughout June
Today, the Prime Minister has set out a timetable to re-open high street shops, department stores and shopping centres throughout June once they can show customers will be kept safe.
Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers. As with garden centres, the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor and more open spaces. Car showrooms often have significant outdoor space and it is generally easier to apply social distancing.
All other non-essential retail including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, will be expected to be able to reopen from 15 June if the Government’s five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines, giving them three weeks to prepare.
More access to testing
As of today, anybody over the age of 5 with coronavirus symptoms can now get tested.
An update to coronavirus symptoms
Today, the Chief Medical Officer has updated the list of symptoms for coronavirus.
All individuals should self-isolate if they develop a new continuous cough or fever or anosmia.
Anosmia is the loss of or a change in your normal sense of smell. It can also affect your sense of taste as the two are closely linked.
Stay Alert this weekend
It’s really important that we all follow the rules this weekend, so we can control the virus and save lives. Staying alert means:
- Staying at home as much as possible.
- Working from home if you can.
- Limiting contact with other people.
- Keeping 2m apart when you go out.
- Washing your hands regularly.
REMEMBER - you CAN’T go on holiday, visit a second home, socialise at somebody else’s house, or meet up with more than one person outside. #StayAlertSaveLives
If you are in the following groups, you can now get tested for coronavirus:
- all essential workers including NHS and social care workers with symptoms (see the full list of essential workers)
- people over 65 with symptoms
- people with symptoms going to work who cannot work from home (for example, construction workers, shop workers, emergency plumbers and delivery drivers)
- anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus and lives with any of those identified above
Additionally, the government is testing:
- social care workers and residents in care homes, with or without symptoms, both to investigate outbreaks and, following successful pilots, as part of a rolling programme to test all care homes (see the guidance for care home residents and workers in England)
- NHS workers and patients without symptoms, in line with NHS England guidance
Guidance for schools
Earlier this week, the Prime Minister announced the government's roadmap for the phased return of some children to school from June 1st at the earliest.
This evening, I held a live Facebook Q&A with constituents. You can watch the full playback of the event above.
As ever, if you need my help, please get in touch.
Apply now for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme
Applications are now open for the Self-Employed Income Support scheme. Click here to find out more.
Spending time outdoors
From today, you can now spend more time outdoors.
You can do as much exercise as you like, and go to parks and beaches to sunbathe, have a picnic, and go fishing. Outdoors sports courts can reopen, including tennis and basketball courts as well as golf courses, and you can visit a garden centre.
You can also see one other person from another household - as long as you follow social distancing guidelines.
These changes follow scientific advice which shows that the risk of infection is much lower outside.
Remember to follow social distancing rules, and stay 2m apart at all times.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme EXTENDED
Today, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the end of October.
There will be no changes to the scheme until the end of July, at which point the scheme will continue, but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work. Employers who are currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed workers back part-time.
The government will ask employers to start sharing, with the government, the costs of paying people's salaries. However, workers will continue to receive the same level of support they receive now - 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 per month.
An update from the Prime Minister
Today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has updated the nation on Coronavirus. You can watch his full video address above.
In order to monitor the virus in the weeks and months ahead, the Prime Minister had announced a new Covid Alert Level, which will be monitored by the new Joint Biosecurity Centre. This will be primarily determined by the R and the number of coronavirus cases, and will tell us how tough we have to be in our social distancing measures - the lower the level, the fewer measures, but the higher the level, the tougher and stricter we will have to be.
We can control the Coronavirus if we all stay alert. You should continue to stay at home as much as possible and keep your distance when you need to go out.
If you cannot work from home, you should continue to go to work, and from this Wednesday you can take more outdoor exercise. You can sit in the sun in your local park, and drive to other destinations. You can even play sports, but only with members if your own household.
Finally, as we all work hard to defeat the Coronavirus, please remember to continue washing your hands, and self-isolate if you or anybody in your households has symptoms.
Learning more about Coronavirus
This week, Professor Chris Whitty, the governments Chief Medical Officer, delivered a lecture at Gresham College.
The lecture is for members of the public who want a broad overview of the virus, and provides answers to some of the more technical questions people have been asking in recent weeks.
More workers eligible for Coronavirus tests
Anyone in England with coronavirus symptoms who either has to leave home to go to work or is aged 65 can now get tested.
New 2020 Energy Guide Launched
This week, I have launched an updated version of my annual Energy Guide containing the latest coronavirus advice and support.
There is help available to reduce and manage your bills. If you rely on heating oil, now is also a great time to take advantage of the historically low prices, with oil a fraction of the cost it was just a few months ago.
New Guarantees on death in service benefits for frontline health and care staff
The government has announced a new life assurance scheme for frontline health and care workers who die from coronavirus.
The families of eligible staff will receive a £60,000 payment.
Northumberland News Magazine
Northumberland County Council are delivering a COVID-19 edition of the Northumberland News Magazine to every household across the county. The magazine contains a whole host of information about support available from both the government and the council.
Supporting pupils to learn at home
Today, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced that disadvantaged pupils, or those at the most crucial stages of education, without access to laptops or tablets will receive devices to make education accessible.
The government will also provide 4G routers to make sure these pupils can access the internet.
In addition to this, the Oak National Academy is due to launch on Monday 20th April. This has been created by 40 teachers from leading schools and will provide 180 video lessons a week across a broad range of subjects.
The government has launched a new public information campaign to highlight support for those at risk of, or who may be suffering from domestic abuse.
The 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline is available at 0808 2000 247, and www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk.