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Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a further update about the coronavirus pandemic.

First, I thought it might be helpful to set out what will change from next Monday April 12th.

These are the principal changes

  • non-essential retail will be able to reopen
  • personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons will be able to reopen
  • public buildings such as libraries and community centres will be able to reopen
  • outdoor hospitality venues will be able to reopen, with table service only
  • most outdoor attractions including zoos, theme parks, and drive-in performances (such as cinemas and concerts) will be able to reopen
  • some smaller outdoor events such as fetes, literary fairs, and fairgrounds will be able to take place
  • indoor leisure and sports facilities will be able to reopen for individual exercise, or exercise with your household or support bubble
  • all childcare and supervised activities will be allowed indoors (as well as outdoors) for all children. Parent and child groups can take place indoors (as well as outdoors) for up to 15 people (children under 5 will not be counted in this number)
  • weddings, civil partnership ceremonies, wakes and other commemorative events will be able to take place for up to 15 people (anyone working is not included in this limit), including in indoor venues that are permitted to open or where an exemption applies. Wedding receptions can also take place for up to 15 people, but must take place outdoors, not including private gardens
  • self-contained accommodation will be able to open for overnight stays in England with your household or support bubble
  • you should continue to minimise the amount that you travel where possible
  • care home residents will be able to nominate two named individuals for regular indoor visits (following a rapid lateral flow test)

A few people have asked me about the travel rules. There are now no requirements to stay in your local area, though as you will see people are being asked not to travel round too much. But if you have elderly relatives who live some way away, for example, you are now able to go and visit them as long as you do so outdoors.

Infection Rates

The infection rate locally is now pretty low, and the pressures on Epsom and St Helier Hospitals have dissipated, though both still have some covid patients.

The latest information about the infection rates in Surrey is here

https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/257085/COVID-19-Dashboard_0104.pdf

Rapid Testing

You may have seen that rapid testing is now available to everyone who wants it, or who might need it for work. The NHS has published a map of all the locations that are available for testing. The link to it is here

https://maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk/

Vaccinations

Everyone over the age of 50 locally or people with specific health conditions which make them vulnerable to the virus should now have had, or be about to have their first vaccine, and many will have had their second. If you have any problems getting this arranged and still have not been vaccinated, please let me know and I will see what I can do to help.

Alec Stewart Fundraiser

Thank you to everyone who signed up for the Alec Stewart event to raise funds for the Food Bank Digital Inclusion Appeal. The event raised well over £1,000, which will help provide computer equipment to families with children who do not have access to it at the moment. Thank you to Alec for leading a very interesting discussion. If anyone else has access to laptops or tablets which are no longer needed, please let me know.

Local Issues

On a couple of other local issues.

Many of you will be aware of the issues around the expanded use of the Chalk Pit in Epsom for industrial recycling. The current expanded use is unlawful and should not be happening in what is a green belt location. It is also causing considerable noise and dust nuisance for local residents.

I am working with local residents at the moment to try to get the issue addressed and to get the regulatory officials who oversee issues like this to take action to stop what is going on.

The operator is applying retrospectively for planning consent to use the site in this way. I have already lodged an objection to the application, and I know that many others have too. But I would encourage everyone affected to do so by writing to Councillor Tim Hall, the Chair of the Planning Committee at Surrey County Council. The address is County Hall, Penrhyn Road, Kingston, Surrey, KT1 2EA. The application is due to be heard in June.

Lastly I have been asked by a few people whether our local councils are about to be reorganised. Just to let you know that the Government has decided to leave things as they are in Surrey as there were divided opinions about the best way forward. The District and Borough Councils argued for Surrey to be divided into two or three Council areas and County Councillors preferred a single Council. So as there was no agreement, Ministers have decided that there should be no changes for the time being.

Let’s hope that progress with easing the lockdown can continue. I hope you all manage to enjoy a better time this spring seeing friends and family.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling