Good afternoon and welcome to my regular South West Surrey email update No 65. As of today, we have a total of 301,455 positive cases of COVID-19 with 45,961 confirmed deaths in the UK. There are 4,697 confirmed cases in Surrey and 469 confirmed cases. All data is accurate as of 11am this morning. You can keep up to date with Covid-19 on the government dashboard.
To holiday or not… Following yesterday’s announcement that people arriving from Luxembourg must now quarantine for 14 days, further changes to the list of countries which require you to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival into the UK are expected to be announced shortly. The latest data shows that there has been a spike in the number of cases inBelgium and Croatia which could be next on the list (but not yet Italy where the Hunt family are hoping to go - mainly because the Italian ice cream industry could not survive without an annual visit by my children). The main point is that if you are planning to go abroad this summer you just have to accept the rules may change and you may need to quarantine. It’s not an ideal situation – just ask the Transport Secretary – but as things currently stand a test upon arrival doesn’t prove that you are not carrying the virus with you so there is no easy way out on this one. Worth noting that the most successful coronavirus fighters - Korea and Taiwan - still have mandatory quarantine with no ‘air bridges’ and it is virtually impossible for a foreigner to get into Japan. You can stay up to date with which countries require you to quarantine on this government website.
Second peak imminent? Both the Prime Minister and the World Health Organisation’s special representative for COVID-19 warned on Tuesday that Europe may be about to experience a second peak. The data shows that the continent is beginning to see an increase in the number of cases, mirrored in the UK where the number of new cases is also slowly increasing. Nothing to be alarmed about - yet - but caution is needed. To help prevent a spike the government have increased the period of time you must self-isolate if you are showing COVID-19 symptoms from 7 days to 10. Meanwhile, we still need to focus on following the government social distancing rules - including avoiding touching your face when you are wearing a facemask.
Vaccines. Yesterday the UK government struck a deal with the pharmacy giants GSK and Sanfofi Pasteur for 60 million doses of a possible new Covid-19 vaccine. It means that the UK has now secured early access to four of the most likely types of possible immunisation. The government got a lot of stick a while back for not joining the joint EU procurement scheme, but this now looks like it could be a stroke of genius because the EU remains stuck in negotiations with multiple pharmaceutical companies without yet any access to future vaccines.
Care homes. The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee yesterday published a report into the situation care homes faced early on in the pandemic. The discharging of patients from hospitals to care homes without them being tested was the wrong approach and likely resulted in thousands of avoidable deaths. We have discussed this many time at the Health Select Committee too, and it is worth saying that the best way to protect care homes is not just PPE and testing but also keeping community transmission low. What is really needed now though is a long-term social care plan and funding agreement which I hope the government will be publishing shortly.
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WHAT’S GOING ON IN WESTMINSTER
End of Term: My staff will be the first to tell you that it has been a very long six months, itself following a hectic period of election campaigning. For anyone interested in the stats since January I have replied to 8,000 emails, spoken in the House of Commons 58 times, (putting me I am reliably told in the top 10% of MPs), chaired 16 meetings of the Health & Social Care Select Committee, had over 100 phone calls with local charities and Covid-19 support groups, held 12 local constituency surgeries (virtually these days) and held a local environmental round table. All of this working from home with the occasional Zoom interruption from one of my little darlings.
WHAT’S GOING ON IN SOUTH WEST SURREY
Car park charging at Frensham Great Pond will be changing to bring them into line with the National Trust car park charging at Little Pond and to assist in the effective management of the site. Car parking charges will now be in force every day except for Christmas Day from 9 am to 7 pm. The changes come into force from August 1st - full details and prices can be found here.
Sandy Hill Estate I am very concerned to hear that Dudrich Holdings, the owners of the Sandy Hill Estate, want to start charging residents for parking permits. I have written to Dudrich Holdings requesting that given the very challenging times we are currently living in they would consider rethinking this, not least because this is the most deprived part of the constituency… Fingers crossed common decency prevails.
#HeartOfHaslemere campaign – raising a cup to local businesses. Haslemere’s Chamber of Trade and Commerce and Haslemere Town Council have teamed up to get the town back to business in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign encourages people to stay safe and shop local as lockdown restrictions are eased across the country. For more details please visit the Chamber of Commerce website.
Disability Arts in Surrey are offering weekly arts, creative writing and dance fitness workshops online, with some offline activities also available. The programme is designed and delivered by a talented group of artists and features workshops and tasks to keep you creative, fit and having fun. Why not join a class here?
Local Liaison Forum The Farnham Infrastructure Programme is launching a Local Liaison Forum next Wednesday (August 5th from 6-8pm). The meeting will see Surrey County Council, Waverley Borough Council and Farnham Town Council share the details of a series of proposed projects which we hope will transform the town. You can register to join the webinar here and find out more about the event on the Town Council Website.
Froyle Incinerator Earlier in the week I wrote to Hampshire County Council formally objecting to the proposed Veolia Incinerator in Froyle. Not only will there be a significant environmental impact, but Farnham town centre will see dozens of HGV’s passing through it every day, ripping up all the good work that has been done to help improve pollution levels in the town. I am liaising closely with Surrey County Council leadership and the MP for East Hants Damian Hinds, so fingers crossed Hampshire CC turn down the application.
I have been compiling a list of local groups working to support vulnerable residents. You can view them on this link.
THE ECONOMY AND JOBS
Discretionary Grants. Applications have opened for the second round of the Local Authority Grants scheme for small businesses. The grants are targeted at businesses in Waverley that have suffered losses due to COVID-19 and which have not been eligible for any other government grant schemes. This second round widens the eligibility to include businesses with a Rateable Value or fixed property-related costs of up to £55,000 per year. Businesses that did not apply for the first round but would have met the eligibility criteria can now apply here.
Japan: As Chair of the British Parliamentary Group on Japan (remember my wife was Japanese once?) I am thrilled to hear that the UK and Japan are close to confirming a new trade agreement. The trade deal will go further than the current EU-Japan trade deal (which we are currently part of). It also means that Britain is one step closer to joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership which includes Australia, Japan and New Zealand as well as Canada, Chile and Mexico, accounting for 13 per cent of the global economic output. Potentially a big breakthrough in our progress in negotiating a new network of international trade deals.
WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON
Alliance matters! In this week’s Herald I have looked back on my time as Foreign Secretary and assessed what Britain needs to be doing to remain an outward-looking country and defender of liberal democratic values. It's not going to be comfortable, and it requires each and every one of us to play our part if we are to defend the democratic values we all believe in this century as effectively as our ancestors did in the last one.
And finally, with the summer now here I am giving my team who help prepare these updates some time off. We will, of course, be back in September!