Justin Tomlinson MP

Justin Tomlinson MP

MP For North Swindon

Swindon Advertiser Column - Retail Workers Have Played An Integral Role In Ensuring We Have All Had Access To Essential Goods

On Monday, Coronavirus restrictions were eased to allow non-essential retailers to re-open. This was very welcome for both customers and businesses, and it was great to see people going out and supporting local businesses following what has been a very challenging time for the retail sector.

As a former business owner myself, I know how difficult it must have been for shops to close their doors. The retail sector has faced huge challenges over the past few months, and I am very grateful to our local business for their perseverance during these difficult times. Let’s all do our bit now and get out there and support our local businesses with their recovery.

In this “new normal”, we are all getting used to shopping with social distancing, and I am very grateful for the diligence shown by retailers to ensure that people can shop safely, and that staff are protected. To help retailers, the Government has been working with both national and independent retailers; business representation groups; trades unions; Public Health England; and the Health and Safety Executive to provide guidance on how to keep both staff and customers safe during the outbreak.

I would also like to thank retail workers who have continued to work in our shops, online and in supply chains throughout this challenging period. They have played an integral role in ensuring that we all have had continued and safe access to essential goods over the last three months.

This week it was announced that the drug Dexamethasone will be made available immediately on the NHS. Following a government-funded a trial into the drug, Dexamethasone has now been approved for the treatment of hospitalised Covid-19 patients who require oxygen or are on ventilators. I was pleased to hear that we have enough supplies in place to treat over 200,000 people. This is a significant breakthrough that could potentially save thousands of lives.

I also welcomed the Government’s launch of the Covid Summer Food Fund, which will provide food vouchers to eligible families over the six-week summer holiday period. I also applaud the work of footballer Marcus Rashford for his role in raising this issue.

Previously, free school meals have only been available during term-time, with the goal of providing healthy meals to all school children. In light of the challenges many disadvantaged children are facing due to Covid-19, the Government rightly introduced, for the first time, a national voucher scheme over the Easter and half term holidays. I am delighted that this has now been extended to the summer holidays too. This is very welcome; however, we also need to go further and provide wrap around support via local authorities to provide individual support during these unprecedented times.

I was also very pleased to see the Premier League return this week, albeit looking and feeling very different. It was very strange to see games being played in empty stadiums – basically the standard of my playing days many years ago! However somethings don’t change, we still have the drama and controversy, but we’ll take that!

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