Dear constituent

I am writing with a further update about the coronavirus crisis.

Some people have been in touch with me and are still uncertain about the recommendations about people who are vulnerable in the current crisis.

Most of us are being instructed to maintain social distancing guidance and also to stay at home if we or any member of our family have symptoms. The only people who are currently being asked to shield themselves absolutely for 12 weeks are listed in this guidance.

Thank you to all the people locally who maintained the social distancing rules over the weekend. This remains very important for all of us. I hope that we can start to lift these rules before too long, but we need to see the virus peak and start to decline before changes can be considered.

Please remember that you are only allowed to leave your home for food shopping, for health reasons (including a medical appointment or to collect a prescription, or for one piece of daily exercise) or work if you cannot work from home. If you go out, stay 2 metres, or 6 feet, away from other people at all times, and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

Support for people who are forced to stay at home

You are not allowed to leave home for any other reason. It is particularly important that these rules are stuck to over the Easter weekend. The police have the power to prosecute you if they find the rules being broken. But more importantly, it is essential to stop the spread of infection locally and to avoid putting extra pressure on the fantastic team at Epsom Hospital.

I have had several questions about the support available for shopping for people who are forced to stay at home.

If you are one of the people on the Government’s list of those who have to shield at home for 12 weeks, then you should automatically receive a food box delivered by the Government. This is coming from a specially set-up hub in Guildford.

In addition, your details are being passed to the supermarkets so you can be identified as a priority for home delivery. If you have been added to the list using the special link here and your  your GP has confirmed that you should be on the list, but you find that you are not being given access to home delivery, please let me know and I will contact the supermarkets on your behalf.

If you are of pensionable age and do not come under the list of those being told to shield themselves, you are still able to go to do a food shop, but are being asked to be particularly rigorous about maintaining a 2m distance from other people.

But if you are feeling unwell, or have another reason to need to stay at home, then the first port of call for those of pensionable age should be one of the local branches of Age Concern. Please don’t be worried about calling them. They have teams of volunteers doing work to help, including shopping and collecting prescriptions.

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell – 01372 732456

Age Concern Mole Valley – 01306 899104

Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

For everyone else worried about getting shopping done, or needing other support, please call the Surrey County Council helpline on 0300 200 1008. And my apologies that my last update had a typing error on the number for Surrey County Council. They will steer you to a local community group, or to one of the support hubs that have been set up by the Borough and District Councils.

Worried residents can also visit the dedicated Surrey County Council Coronavirus website here for community support for more information.

Garden Centres

A few people have contacted me about the situation with local garden centres. Some are able to remain open because of the mix of things that they sell, but visiting a garden centre would not count as essential travel under the current rules. Please take advantage of the online and telephone service combined with home delivery that many of our local garden centres have put in place.

Applications are now open for the grant support for leisure and retail businesses that have been asked to close. All the overall information about the schemes are at www.businesssupport.gov.uk, but details of how to apply locally for the grants are found via the relevant Borough and District Council websites in Epsom and Ewell, Reigate and Banstead and Mole Valley.

Bonfires

Finally a number of people who suffer from Asthma and similar have approached me about the number of bonfires being lit locally, particularly as many green waste collections have stopped. Please can I ask you to think carefully about lighting up and about the impact the smoke and ash may have on your neighbours. Better not to burn if possible, and store the waste in the corner of your garden if you can until green waste collections or the local dumps can restart. The waste can then be turned into biofuels which will help the environment.

I will keep you posted about any further information that becomes available.

Best wishes

Chris