14 April 2020
Barn Theatre Q&A session on COVID-19

Thank you for joining us today for my fourth covid-19 Q&A session being held at the Barn Theatre in Cirencester. To mark Good Friday I am very pleased to be joined by The Revered Canon John Swanton from The Ampneys. Easter weekend for so many of us is a moment of reflection and I realise how hard it will be for us not to acknowledge this important holiday in the normal way.

Easter and Spring is a time of hope for a renewed future. It is a season of growth with nature coming alive again around us, with flowers and trees blooming. The days are longer, lighter, and warmer, it is a time of optimism, enthusiasm, and positive change. Now more than ever we need the light, hope and opportunity of Spring. Whatever our circumstances, things will get better. 

This is also a weekend for family and it is with great sadness that many of us cannot see our loved ones and celebrate. Coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced in decades, but by staying at home we are protecting the NHS and saving lives. A special mention goes to all the doctors, nurses, all care professionals, cleaners, food chain workers, utility workers, and other key workers who will not be with their families this weekend but working incredibly hard to save lives and keep our country going.

Today, to mark Easter weekend, we would like to discuss the way communities and individuals have stepped up during these unprecedented times to support one another. We will be discussing some great ideas on how we can help each other and taking a moment to thank all those heroes going above and beyond during this crisis.

The team here at the Barn Theatre have been doing great work in running these sessions and similar ones that are benefiting our community. This week their wardrobe department have answered a call for help from local hospitals and have been working incredibly hard to make hand-made scrubs for front line workers. The community focus shown by the Barn Theatre during this time is admirable and I am sure we all want to see it maintained for us all to enjoy after this period.

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We will also be discussing ways in which we can stay connected with our families and friends during this period. We are fortunate that technology has made it easier than ever, I know people are making the most of using Zoom and social networks like Houseparty for group chats. There is a wide awry of innovative apps and websites for all purposes, I have been using the tinybeans app to stay updated with my grand-daughters milestones and memories with pictures and videos.

Before we start discussing the community action ideas in more detail, I would like to give a quick update on the latest Government action.

The Prime Minister has been released from intensive care after responding well to treatment.  Thank you to everyone who emailed me asking me to pass on their well wishes to Boris, Carrie, and his family. I hope the Prime Minister is given the time to fully recover. We have a extremely capable Cabinet supported by very experienced Civil Servants, who are working to a scientifically-led, step-by-step action plan, taking the right measures at the right time. 

Following extensive lobbying from Glostershire MPs a delivery of more than 400,000 items of personal protective equipment arrived in the county on Tuesday night. The PPE will be distributed to 79 different care locations in the county. More supplies are expected in the coming days.  

The First Secretary of State chaired a COBR meeting, involving the devolved administrations, to discuss our approach to the review of social distancing measures. At this stage, the Government is continuing to gather all of the relevant data, to obtain the fullest picture possible, of the effects of the social distancing measures that we’ve put in place. We will be guided by the science at all times, so we don’t expect to be able to say more on this until the end of next week. The measures will have to stay in place until we have the evidence that clearly shows we’ve moved beyond the peak.

The Government is working  with technology firms to help people in care homes stay in touch with their families during this difficult time. As part of this work, Facebook will provide more than 2,000 of its Portal video calling devices for free to hospitals, care homes and other settings including hospices.

The Government has reached the target of 10,000 coronavirus tests per day by the end of March – and set a target of 100,000 by the end of April.

Issued a call for action for manufacturers to produce new ventilators – with the first arriving next week and thousands more in the pipeline and struck a deal with private hospitals to put 20,000 staff, 8,000 beds, and 1,200 ventilators at our disposal.

They have introduced emergency legislation to help control the spread of COVID-19, with a £31 billion package of support for our public services, individuals and businesses. Refunding eligible Statutory Sick Pay costs for small and medium sized businesses. £500 million Hardship Fund to support economically vulnerable people and households.


Watch the Q&A session on video