MP Meg HIllier calls for clarity after Boris Johnson announces “confusing” new coronavirus lockdown rules

Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier. Picture: Stefano Cagnoni

Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier. Picture: Stefano Cagnoni - Credit: Archant

Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, says Boris Johnson’s announcement of the government’s new lockdown rules begs more questions than it answers.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVI

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19); PA - Credit: PA

On Sunday (May 10), the Prime Minister called on members of the public to return to work if they cannot do so from home and laid out his plans to gradually ease the lockdown and restart the economy. Mr Johnson faced criticism this week for replacing the government’s “stay at home” slogan with the message to “stay alert, control the virus and save lives”.

But Ms Hillier said: “In terms of lifting the lockdown the messaging has got to be really clear – we’ve had different ministers saying different things.”

“It was a carefully crafted speech by the Prime Minister but where’s the detail?”

She is concerned people who can’t work from home now face a difficult decision between returning to their jobs to ease financial pressures or shielding themselves or members of their household from the virus.

“I think it’s not really been understood by the government that there is a big divide and Hackney rather exemplifies that divide.

There are people who can afford, in normal times, to work a four-day week and still earn enough money to live and there are people who are working four jobs over seven days often on short or zero hours contracts. That inequality is going to come much more to the fore as people are forced back to work,” Said Ms Hillier.

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The MP has also spoke about the need for details on how schools and businesses will reopen and what that will look like in practice.

She told the Gazette: “Businesses need to know what the options are – they need to start planning now and it’s pretty critical because if they think they are not going to cope or survive they’re going to have to start making people redundant.”

She said, if businesses struggling over the next few months are assured by the government that support will continue they can plan accordingly.

“They may still be against the wall but at least they’ll have options. I think there is a lack of certainty.”

Ms Hillier knows of teachers who are measuring out classrooms to ensure social distancing when pupils return but are still unsure as to how they will teach under future restrictions.

“Hats off to them frankly, for some of the things they’ve achieved but now suddenly, they are being told to reopn again but they’ve been open all this time. They now need to think about how to start doing lessons phsycailly again whilst maintaining the online capability as well.”

Boris Johnson made his speech before releasing a 50-page roadmap to get the country out of lockdown.

To read the document click here.

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Or to find more groups, networks and organisations like this in Hackney providing support during the Coronavirus lockdown visit our There With You Essential List.

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