Updates from Chris Grayling MP.

Message posted 21st May 2020

Dear constituent

Just another few updates for you on the current situation.
Coronavirus Community Fund

Firstly, for those involved in small local charities, the application process for those needing extra financial support from the Coronavirus Community Fund opens tomorrow. Details can be found here.

Please let me know if you are applying and you need my support. Thank you again to all of those who have been helping local charities during this period., and in particular those who have been providing volunteer and other support for the team at Epsom Hospital, whether it is helping with extra equipment or sending in takeaways.

Parking at Epsom Downs

Secondly, a number of you have raised the issue of car parking on the Downs following my last update. These are the only car parks which have not reopened locally. I have been told that the Downs Conservators are meeting to discuss the issue tomorrow night, and I have asked that the car parks are reopened straight away and in time for most of this weekend.

Community Recycling Centres

Thirdly, the County has now confirmed that it intends to fully open most of the recycling centres from the first of June, which means that you will be able to take other goods there. For the past couple of weeks you have only been allowed to take black bin bags and garden waste.
Local Restaurants

Just a reminder that there is a list of local restaurants which are offering takeaway services during the current crisis on my website, www.chrisgrayling.net. Please let me know if you are doing so and I will add your business to the list. And please do keep using them. It’s great to see the (socially distanced) queues outside many of them.

And please keep socially distancing over this weekend. We do not want a revival of the virus.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

 

Message posted 19th May 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a further update on the Coronavirus crisis.

Testing

As you may have seen, testing is now to be extended to everyone in the UK over the age of 5 who develops symptoms of the virus. Key workers will still be given priority but if you feel unwell you are now able to get a test – though it will, I suspect, take a few days for the new system to bed in.

If you are unwell and want to be tested, you need to apply via the online portal on the government website. The link is here.

If you do need to be tested, you can ask for a home testing kit which will be sent to you in the post, but to be honest I suspect it is quicker and easier for most people in this area to simply book a test at the local testing centre in the main car park at Chessington World of Adventures. If you go there you will be given a test kit to use in your car, and you will be asked to take a swab from the back of your throat and another from your nose. The swabs are then sealed and sent off to a lab for testing and you will receive the result by email or text within a few days.

As yet there is no date for the introduction of the other tests which tell if you have already had the virus, but I would expect those to start being used next month.

If you do have symptoms and test positive, I would advise you to let your GP practice know.

Working safely during Coronavirus

As Britain gets back to work after the lockdown, you might want to check the guidance for employers and employees about how to handle the current challenges if you are concerned about the way social distancing is being managed in your workplace. The details are here.

Likewise for anyone wanting to know more about the proposal to bring some more pupils back into schools in June, the latest published guidance is here.

No final decision on whether to go ahead with this will be taken until a few days before, when it is clear what is happening to infection rates.

Food boxes

Apologies. When I highlighted the food boxes now available from ASDA, I didn’t realise that the web address they had given me had a typo. The boxes can now be accessed through the main ASDA website.

If you are one of those who are receiving Government food boxes because you are shielding and are worried that they are about to end as the lockdown starts to ease, don’t be concerned. These will be continuing for the time being. I will let you know if I am aware that this will change.
Country car parks

For those of you taking regular exercise, most car parks are now open at local beauty spots and many of the nicest walking areas are still pretty empty – as I have found in recent evenings. So it’s easy to go a little further afield than you have been.

Local charities

In these updates I have been highlighting the work of local charities during the crisis. This time I would like to thank local Rotary Clubs for what they are doing. For example the Epsom Rotary Club has just donated a number of tablet computers for patients at Epsom Hospital so that they can keep in touch with home more easily. Thank you to them and to all the other charities doing important work at this difficult time.


Best wishes
Chris Grayling

Message posted 12th May 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a further update about the current situation. Many of you will have seen the Prime Minister’s broadcast on Sunday evening, but I thought it might be helpful to share some of the key points of the new rules with you.

Workplace – what we can and can't do

Firstly, when it comes to work, those who can work from home are still being asked to do so, and the list of businesses that are still required to be closed remains unchanged from March – with two exceptions. The aim is that this will start to change in early June if progress against the virus continues.

This is the original list can be found here.

The only changes are that garden centres will be allowed to open from this Wednesday, and some sporting facilities can reopen, but not their clubhouses. But all of these remain subject to specific conditions and you should check the new guidance document for details.

Every other business apart from those listed, and those in the education arena covered by the separate provisions for schools and early years providers, is able to continue operating and should do so if it is at all practical while maintaining social distancing in the workplace. Please also remember that if you are a business that has had to close its premises, you can still do online or telephone-based work.

Social Distancing – what you can and can't do

Secondly, there has been some debate about what you are now allowed to do and not allowed to do outside work.

We know that the virus is most easily transmitted in groups of people, which is why the rules prevent you having gatherings of friends and family in your home. You can be fined if you do this.

But the new rules do allow a little more flexibility than before. You can go further afield for a walk or to have a picnic. You can also meet up with one other person not from your household as long as you keep the two metre distancing rule. You can also now play a small number of sports as long as you do so alone or with members of your own household, or with one other person not from your household. These include golf, tennis and angling.

But things like having your friends round for a barbecue or playing five-a-side football are not yet permitted.

All the details of the new rules are here.

If you have any queries, have a look at the document, and if you can’t get the answer let me know and I will try to get clarification for you. There are some issues still outstanding, like some details on what is now allowed on childcare, and I will provide updates when I get them.

I am expecting a further statement on Tuesday from the Chancellor about support for business and employment.

Surrey County Council country car parks

One thing that will change locally as a result of the new rules from the Government is that local car parks in walking and beauty spots in Surrey will reopen shortly. The County says that they will not be charging for the car parks while the current crisis continues.

Can I be tested?

A reminder that if you are an eligible person and start to experience coronavirus symptoms, you can be tested at the test centre at Chessington World of Adventures. It’s quick and easy, though you have to book in first. To apply for the test click here.

You can apply for a test if you are:
• an essential worker with coronavirus symptoms
• aged 65 or over with coronavirus symptoms
• someone who cannot work from home and has coronavirus symptoms (for example, construction workers or delivery drivers)
Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can apply if they live with an essential worker, a person aged 65 or over, or someone who travels to work.

You can also apply for a test if you have a clinical referral from NHS 111 online.

Community Recycling Centres

A reminder that the local refuse and recycling centres have now reopened, except some smaller ones elsewhere in the County. But they are only accepting black bin bags and garden waste for the time being. It’s worth checking the relevant website before you go just to check on current status.

Supermarket deliveries for those self-isolating or shielding at home

For anyone who is still having difficulty getting supermarket deliveries I have had this message from ASDA – particularly for anyone who is self-isolating or shielding at home. I hope it proves helpful.

We are launching a food box, which will typically contain 31 store cupboard staples for £30, making it the best value supermarket food box available on the market. It is targeted at vulnerable people who are struggling to get to the supermarket and is easy for volunteers to purchase on their behalf.

Your constituents will be able to buy these on www.foodboxes.asda.com, and have a box delivered directly to their door within two days of placing the order.

The box will contain supplies that have been in high demand including cereal, bread, pasta and tinned fruit and vegetables.

Thank you to our local volunteers

Can I finally thank all of the local volunteers who are helping support the vulnerable at this difficult time. A huge amount of work is being done to help, by charities like Age Concern, the Foodbank and the team of NHS volunteers, and I am very grateful to all of them. But we also owe a debt of gratitude to all of the other volunteers who are keeping other local charities going in tough circumstances.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

 

Message posted 7th May 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a further update on the current situation.

Firstly, for those in small business locally the Government has announced a further package of grant and rate relief. The initial scheme was targeted particularly at those businesses which have been required to close, such as non-food shops, hair and beauty salons and leisure businesses. However a number of problems have emerged, such as where a business does not pay rates directly but is located within a larger building which does. They have not been eligible for the grant support even though they are in the affected sectors.

The Government has now given local councils extra money and discretion to deal with these kinds of circumstances, or to extend support to businesses that are specifically important for a local area.

Top-up to local business grant funds scheme

You will need to approach Epsom and Ewell, Mole Valley or Reigate and Banstead councils to check their decision about your eligibility.

Business Bounceback Loans

If any of you are having problems accessing the Business Bounceback Loans, aimed at small businesses, announced last week by the Government please let me know. These are low cost loans with no interest due in the first twelve months, and allow you to borrow 25% of your annual turnover up to £50,000. In many cases I can nudge the banks into action.

Pro bono help from local business advisors and accountants

I also have two offers of pro bono help from local business advisors and accountants if anyone is struggling with sorting out their business in the current crisis, and could do with some expert advice. Please let me know if you are interested, and I will put you in touch.

Community Recycling Centres

There is good news on the refuse collection front. Surrey County Council has announced that most of the waste sites in the County will reopen next week. There will be a two stage process though; at first they will only accept garden waste and black bin bags. They expect to fully open the sites for all waste within a month, and possibly sooner if there is capacity to do so. However access will be governed by social distancing rules and so in the early days there are likely to be queues. You will also only be allowed one person outside each vehicle at once.

The opening hours for phase one will be;

Chertsey, Earlswood, Epsom, Guildford, Leatherhead, Shepperton, Witley and Woking CRCs: opening hours: 9am-6pm, seven days a week.

Camberley and Farnham CRCs: opening hours: 9am-4pm, seven days a week.

Bagshot, Caterham, Cranleigh, Dorking and Warlingham CRCs: remain closed.

Local Charities

I have been highlighting local charities in need of support if you want to help out in the current situation.

The local branches of Age Concern are doing a fantastic job of helping out vulnerable elderly people during the crisis, organising food deliveries, the collection of prescriptions or just providing a befriending service. Thank you to everyone involved. If you would like to support their work, these are the relevant details.

For Age Concern Epsom and Ewell click here.

For Age Concern Mole Valley click here.

For Age Concern Banstead click here.

Supporting local businesses

My team and I have been talking to local businesses about the current challenges. So that we can all support them and help them through the current crisis, we are starting to build a list of those which are not yet able to open and are doing delivery and click and collect on my website. This already includes a list of cafes and restaurants that have told us that they are doing takeaways, but also now other firms that are working to keep their customers supplied. Please let me know if the business you work for is doing this. I will be putting the details on my website.

NHS Seacole Centre at Headley Court

Earlier this week I did my first and only local engagement since March – a socially distanced visit to the opening of the new NHS Seacole Centre at Headley Court. It’s a new facility which will treat Coronavirus patients who do not need full critical care. I would like to congratulate the local NHS, military and construction teams who turned buildings that had fallen into disrepair since the old Headley Court closed into a smart, modern clinical facility in less than a month.

Many thanks to all of you who are keeping the social distancing guidelines. Please keep this up over the coming days. It’s really important that we do.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

 

Message posted 30th April 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a further update about the current situation.

Firstly, you may have seen that there has been a substantial extension of access to testing if you are suffering from symptoms of the Coronavirus.

Details of those who are eligible and who eligible to apply to be tested are here:

For those of you who are shielding at home and are on the most vulnerable list, there is also updated advice here:

Citizens Advice Bureau Epsom

I have been asked by the Citizens Advice Bureau in Epsom to remind people that they are open and available to provide help to people with financial and other issues during the current crisis.

Details of how to contact them are here.

Access to local cemeteries

Some of you are aware that access to local cemeteries has been limited to funerals only in recent weeks. However the regulations have now been amended to allow mourners also to visit the graves of loved ones. The Epsom cemetery is now going to be open at weekends from 9am to 3pm. It will remain closed during the weeks because funerals are taking place.

Details are on the Borough Council’s website.

and Randalls Road Crematorium , Leatherhead

Local Charities

Epsom and Ewell Foodbank

Thank you to everyone who has supported the fund raising effort for the local foodbank. It has now raised more than £11,000. If you want to contribute the fund raising page is here.

My team and I have also contacted a wide range of other local charities to see how they are coping with the current crisis. If you want to help out financially or otherwise with any of them, here are three more which could use your help.

Home Start

Works with struggling families. Apart from the normal guidance and emotional support that its volunteers provide, it is also collecting food and similar support for those families. They would particularly welcome donations of food, baby milk and nappies. Their contact details are here.

Riding for the Disabled

They have closed down during lockdown. However, the horses still need feeding and the yard still needs care. Any donations would be most welcome. Their contacts are here.

The Meeting Room

They normally run daytime drop-in centres for homeless, socially isolated and vulnerable people living in Mole Valley and Epsom and Ewell. At the moment they are providing packed lunch on Mondays and a hot meal on Fridays for around 90 people in total.

They would welcome any donations and would be particularly grateful for donations of face masks. Their contact details are here.

Finally a reminder about social distancing. The latest figures on deaths in the NHS and Care Homes are a stark reminder about how horrible and dangerous this virus is. We have spoken to most of our local care homes and they seem to have escaped the worst of things so far. But that makes it all the more important that we stick to the rules and do everything we can to avoid the virus starting to spread even more. The guidance on what to do is here.

Thank you to everyone who is doing their best to follow the rules and also to those who are working to keep things going locally.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

 

Message Posted 23rd April 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with further updates on the coronavirus crisis.

Firstly I want to say a big thank you to all of you who work in the NHS locally and in the social care sector – as well as those who are working to keep local services going. I am very grateful to all of you.

A message from the local ambulance service. They are operating as normal, and want to get across to local people that you should not be reluctant to call an ambulance if you think there is a need. They are coping fine with the current pressures and do not want people to end up in a worse condition because they have not initially called for help.

I have been helping a number of local residents who are shielding at home with deliveries from the supermarkets. Please let me know if you are on the highly vulnerable list and are having difficulties. Also, if you not on a vulnerable list and are using delivery services but are able to go to the shops yourself, then please do so. By giving up your delivery slot you are helping someone who is not able to leave their home.

If you do find yourselves in difficulties though, please call either the Surrey County Council helpline or one of the local branches of Age Concern if you are of pensionable age. There is a large team of volunteers waiting to help with shopping or other tasks.

The contact numbers are:

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell – 01372 732456

Age Concern Mole Valley – 01306 899104

Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

Surrey County Council helpline – 0300 200 1008

Surrey County Council are warning that there has been a rise in the number of scams during the current crisis.

They say that fraudsters have been buying fake NHS and care provider lanyards so they can attempt to enter the homes of vulnerable people. The advice is never let anyone you’re not expecting or don’t recognise into your home – check first with the caller’s employer either by ringing a number in a phone book or website, or from any existing paperwork. If there’s any doubt, then don’t let them in. Please take care.

Other scams which have been reported include:-
Automated calls (sometimes from a spoofed local number) telling you that the Government insists you buy a facemask
Sales of miracle cures for coronavirus and fake facemasks
Fake charity collectors
Fake healthcare workers offering home testing kits
HMRC phishing emails and texts that offer a tax refund to help people protect their finances
Thieves offering to shop for the elderly and vulnerable and keeping the money

It’s more important than ever for residents to remember advice from trading standards to protect themselves from fraud. Key advice is:
Be sceptical, don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door
Take your time, don’t be rushed
If you are online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as gov.uk or NHS.uk
Know who you’re dealing with; if you need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with trading standards on the numbers below
Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know. Do NOT give your bank card or PIN to a stranger

If you think you have been scammed, call the police on 101 (999 in an emergency). To report a scam, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01296 388788.

For those of you who are normally users of the local libraries, you may not be aware that Surrey is running a substantial online library service during the current lockdown. Details are at https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/libraries

Thank you to everyone who has supported the fund raising appeal for the foodbank. So far it has raised around £10,000. If you want to contribute, the link is here:

Epsom and Ewell Foodbank - Covid19 Crisis Appeal

My team and I are talking to other local charities about their needs, and next week I will publish a list of those who would welcome additional support for anyone locally who wants to help.

Finally thank you to everyone who is continuing to obey social distancing rules. I hope that the current restraints will start to be eased before too long, in particular to get local shops and businesses working again. But I think we will need to continue to take great care for some considerable while to come.

All good wishes

Chris Grayling

 

Message Posted 16th April 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with some further updates about the Coronavirus crisis.

Most importantly, for those who have found themselves missing out on the employment support scheme because they were not on the payroll on the 28th February, the Government has just announced that the date will be moved forward to the 19th March. This will help those who were between jobs on the 28th and means that new employers will be able to furlough them as well.

Here are the details which I hope will be helpful.

Click here for details of the Government Furlough scheme

Use of paper lanterns in honour of the NHS staff

You may have seen that there is a suggestion that people should buy and release sky lanterns in honour of the work being done by our NHS staff. Please do not do this. There are many ways to celebrate the extraordinary work being done by our local and national NHS teams but this is not one of them. These lanterns are a fire hazard, particularly in dry weather, and are more likely to add to pressure on the emergency services.

Some people have contacted me about how they can best make a donation to help those in difficulties locally. I am supporting the local foodbank, which is doing a very good job helping people who are struggling. If you want to make a donation then please do so via this link.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

Epsom and Ewell Foodbank - Covid19 Crisis Appeal

 

Message Posted 10th April 2020

Dear constituent

First of all, thank you to everyone who has been following the Government rules on social distancing carefully over the last couple of weeks. This is really important to protect our local NHS team. Please make sure that you stick to the rules this weekend.

A reminder of the rules is here

I was sent this very good prompt by a constituent a couple of days ago which I thought I would circulate. Please do share with your email and social media networks.

Covid Advice

I know it is tough for many people, particularly those who live alone, but it will help us get through this quicker.
Those of you who work locally in the charity sector will have seen that the Government announced yesterday a package of support for charities that are struggling to survive.

The details of how this will work to support smaller charities are still being worked out, but it would be helpful to me to know if you are involved in a local charity that is facing financial problems so I can see how I can support you in getting access to some of this assistance.

The Government has also published updates for trustees and charities here

There has been some coverage in the last few days about coronavirus and pets. There is now some official advice on this which I have linked to here

For those who are not aware, you do not have to get your car MoT’d in the current situation. Current certificates have been extended for 6 months. Details are here
Finally, one of the things I didn’t make clear in my last update is that you are allowed to go out to help a vulnerable person. So please can you take the time to tap on the door of an elderly neighbour this weekend just to make sure that they have everything they need.

Please maintain your social distance while you do so, but I want to make sure that there is no one who falls through the cracks because they do not have access to online information. If you find anyone who is struggling, please let me know and I will alert Age Concern to go and help them.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

Message Posted 8th April 2020

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.

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.

Support for people who are forced to stay at home

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 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.

Important telephone numbers

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.

Business Support

For businesses in need of help, click here


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 Grayling

 

Message Posted 27th March 2020

I am writing with a further update about the Coronavirus crisis. Many of you will be aware that the Chancellor has just announced a new support package for the self-employed. I have attached a detailed explanation of how the scheme will work, which I hope will be helpful to those affected. The scheme will be backdated to the 1st of March, though as you will see, it will take a few weeks to set up. So those eligible will get money that covers this month and the scheme will last for at least three months.

I also want to draw the attention of those of you who are over 70 to the guidance about movement and staying at home. I think there has been a little confusion over this. If you are one of the 1.5 million people who have been contacted by the NHS and require shielding you should stay at home and not see anyone else face to face for the next three months. These are the guidelines for you.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/advice-for-people-at-high-risk/

But if you are over 70 and healthy, you should take very great care but otherwise the general guidelines apply to you.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

All of the rest of the guidance for people about what is happening is here.

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

I know many of you are still struggling with getting home deliveries of shopping as you are worried about going to the supermarkets. I have been round all of our major stores locally and they are all now managing access carefully to protect shoppers and staff.

I have spoken to them about improving the situation for those who are self-isolating and trying to get those who need it access to home delivery. They are trying to register more vulnerable people, but the home delivery services are clearly swamped with applications and so for those who are self-isolating and are struggling with getting shopping done, please either call the local branches of Age Concern…..

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell - 01372 732455 or 732456

Age Concern Mole Valley - 01306 899104

Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

….or the Surrey County Council Helpline 0300 200 1008
There are volunteers available to help you with shopping if you cannot go out yourselves.

Please let me know if you have any problems accessing this support.

Finally I am putting up all the information I get on my website www.chrisgrayling.net.

I have also started to collect a list on my website of local restaurants, pubs and cafes which contact me to say they are switching to do takeaways. Please let me know of any which should be included. Please do support these local businesses which are suffering as a result of the virus and of the closures ordered by the Government.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling MP

Message posted 24th March 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with the latest information about the measures that the Government is introducing to tackle the Coronavirus crisis.

Firstly, the detail on the announcements restricting movement outside your home. The guidance notes published by the Government are here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874714/Full_guidance_on_staying_at_home_and_away_from_others.pdf

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874732/230320_-_Revised_guidance_note_-_finalVF.pdf

There will undoubtedly be many questions about this and if you contact me, I will do my best to answer them for you. But the simple summary is that if you don’t have to do it, then don’t. Stay at home unless you really must leave for work or another very important reason, like buying food or going to a medical appointment. And please do not meet your friends, either out or in any of your homes. Talk electronically instead.

For those wondering why these measures are necessary, I was sent this letter yesterday by a leading doctor in South London.

I wanted to send you an open letter to be passed on to as many people as possible. I am writing as a doctor in a front-line hospital battling the greatest challenge in the history of modern healthcare.

I am writing on behalf of my colleagues in the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Units of hospitals nationwide. Many hospitals are just days away from being overwhelmed.

We are pleading with everyone at risk to isolate at home, and everyone else to keep as far distance as possible from others if they are not able to isolate. We have got to break the chain of transmission. By taking this responsibility, every person who does this will be responsible for saving lives. The patients dying today got infected two weeks ago or more. By taking a decision to isolate today and to distance yourself from today, you will be saving lives which will otherwise be lost in two weeks. Please do this today, without any further delay.

You may think the majority of the population are heeding Government advice - but the truth is that many are not, and lives are going to be lost as a consequence.
Doctors, Nurses and all health professionals will stay at work, but we need you to stay at home. Thank you.

Professor Stephen J.D. Brecker, Chief of Cardiology, St. George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

I know that this will be very unsettling for many people, particularly the elderly. I think that the dedicated time for them to go food shopping now seems to have settled down and stocks are reasonable – so people do not need to worry unduly about being able to obtain food. But if you have been advised to stay at home even for food shopping, and many elderly people have already been, and you do not already have help, then please contact one of the following helplines which will be able to help you sort out getting shopping collected for you.

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell - 01372 732 456
Age Concern Mole Valley - 01306 899104
Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

Surrey County Council has set up a help line for people needing help more broadly. They will provide information about where to get help. The number is 0300 200 1008.

Worried residents can also visit the dedicated Surrey County Council Coronavirus website for community support for more information.
https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/coronavirus

I have two further pieces of information for those of you with businesses:

Firstly, some of you may wish to know that the British Business Bank has launched the Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Further detail on how to apply is set out in the link below:
https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

Secondly, the Government has established a new website with the full range of advice for businesses. You can find it at https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/

I hope to have more information about support for the self-employed this week.

Finally, many local restaurants which are not able to open at the moment are doing takeaways and can deliver to your home. If you are running one of these restaurants, please let me know your contact details and I will publicise a list of those which can deliver in one of these bulletins.

With best wishes

Chris Grayling MP

Message posted 21st March 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a couple of further updates.

I am attaching below the text of a letter from the Chancellor outlining the measures to help protect jobs which he announced last night. I know that there remains considerable concern among the self-employed, and I am assured that the Treasury is looking at further measures to help the self-employed. I will keep you posted.

I am also including below that a note that I have received from the Chief Executive of Sainsburys this morning. I hope this provides some clarity about how they are planning to handle things next week. I would urge everyone to respect these special arrangements. In particular we need to ensure that the elderly and workers in the NHS are able to get their shopping done in a safe environment. And please remember also to support our smaller, local shops.

A reminder of the contact details if you need help locally:

For the elderly:

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell - 01372 732 456

Age Concern Mole Valley - 01306 899104

Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

Surrey County Council’s helpline for people needing help more broadly. They will provide information about where to get help. The number is 0300 200 1008

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

https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/coronavirus

If you want to volunteer to help one of the local charity services, here’s who you need to get in touch with:

In Epsom and Ewell and Mole Valley, contact Central Surrey Voluntary Action on 01372 722911

In Reigate and Banstead, contact Voluntary Action Reigate and Banstead on 01737 763156

Please get a takeaway from one of our local restaurants this evening if you can. We need to help support them at this difficult time. And please, though I know it is difficult, do your best to follow the Government’s guidance on what to do during the current crisis. This is really important in reducing the risk to those who are most vulnerable in our society. The latest guidance is at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Some of you may be getting one of these updates for the first time. If you do not want to be on the mailing list, please unsubscribe using the link below.

With best wishes

Chris Grayling MP

Message posted 20th March 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with further advice about the support that is available locally if you are in difficulties in the coming weeks. I am trying to cover as many bases as possible, but please do get in touch with me with individual queries and issues. I know that this is going to be very tough for many people, and I will not be able, and nor will the government, to solve every problem. But we are all doing our best.

Firstly, with regard to the overall picture. I know that many people are very scared about losing their jobs or the future of their businesses. I have already sent the most recent information about Government support for business, but I have also been assured by the Treasury that they are working as fast as they can on further measures to try to protect jobs. I will keep you updated as soon as I can.

I know there are many other issues facing local businesses and I am getting a number of worried emails. I will respond to all those issues individually and provide updates when I can. There is a business support Government hotline which is 0300 456 3565, though I know it is very busy. If you are in danger of losing your job, or may end up without income for a period, there is also a Universal Credit hotline on 0800 328 5644.

The breakdown of all the financial support currently available for individuals and business can be found here.

Many of you are very concerned about the availability of food and essential products in the shops. I have heard some disturbing tales of the scenes in the supermarkets in the past twenty-four hours and have been round to see the situation today. This period will require everyone to be restrained. There is no overall shortage of food in the area and the supermarkets are clear that they will continue to stock up as fast as they can. But don’t forget your local corner shops as well, or the local specialists, many of which do seem to have remained reasonably well-stocked.

I have contacted the local supermarkets again and urged them to police more carefully the time set aside for the elderly, as other people do seem to be trying to shop at the same time.

There are now a number of support services for the vulnerable locally. If you are elderly and struggling to get food, or you have another problem, please contact the local branches of Age Concern. The numbers are as follows:

Age Concern Epsom & Ewell - 01372 732 456

Age Concern Mole Valley - 01306 899104

Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

Surrey County Council has set up a help line for people needing help more broadly. They will provide information about where to get help. The number is 0300 200 1008

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

https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/coronavirus

If you want to volunteer to help one of the local charity services, here’s who you need to get in touch with:

In Epsom and Ewell and Mole Valley, contact Central Surrey Voluntary Action on 01372 722911

In Reigate and Banstead, contact Voluntary Action Reigate and Banstead on 01737 763156

Thank you to everyone who has signed up to be a helper through Community Coronavirus Care. They have gathered valuable information about potential volunteers and are now working with Central Surrey Voluntary Action to sort out how to provide that support to the front line organisations working with the elderly and the vulnerable.

Please do also look out for your neighbours and point anyone who needs help towards one of these services.

Finally, can I stress again how important it is to support smaller local businesses at this difficult time. If you can, please do order a takeaway from a local restaurant this weekend if you might otherwise have gone there for a meal instead. Or find another local business you can support. We need them to be still there when all this is over.

Please could you pass this message to your friends and contacts and ask them in turn to make sure that anyone they know who might need supporting in the days ahead knows where to turn.

With best wishes

Chris Grayling MP

Message posted 19th March 2020

Dear constituent

I am writing to give you some further updates about the Coronavirus crisis. I know that this is an extraordinarily difficult time for many people.

Firstly the latest information from the NHS can be found at:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

For those of you with businesses or self-employed, you may have seen that the Government has offered a big package of support to business. It has also promised additional support if needed. Details of what is available and how to ask questions about it can be found at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses

I will circulate any further information I receive about the suspension of schools at the end of the week once I have it. I am also expecting an announcement about people who rent their homes later this week.

Many people have contacted me to express concern about the lack of key goods in supermarkets. I last spoke to the local supermarkets a few days ago and they assured me then that they are not suffering from shortages in the supply chain. The issue is the level of bulk buying. For those of you who are concerned about this, Sainsburys and Asda have introduced restrictions on the quantity of an individual item you can buy. Sainsburys are also introducing dedicated shopping time for the older generation. I will talk to retailers again in the next couple of days.

But can I also urge people locally to buy from small shops too, who are really feeling the pinch. The same applies to helping out local restaurants. Whilst the new recommendations from the Government ask us not to go to pubs and restaurants for a few weeks, that does not stop us getting takeaways from those that offer that service – and the Government intends to make it easier for them to do so with a change to the licensing rules in the very near future. I would encourage everyone to do anything you can in the current situation to help smaller local businesses.

I know that this is a particularly unsettling time for those over the age of 70 and for those who are unwell, or have had to self-isolate. Whilst many have family and friends who can rally round, I know that not everyone does. A considerable amount of work is being done right now by local charities, the Councils and the different volunteer groups that have emerged in recent days to ensure that they can provide everyone with the support they need, and also to make the best use of the people who have offered help. Please make your neighbours your first port of call to make sure that they are OK. But those involved will send round more details later in the week of how to help, and what to do if you need help.

Finally a big thank you to all of you who work in the NHS. This is an incredibly difficult time for the NHS and I am very grateful to you.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling MP