It is difficult to overstate the challenge the COVID-19 crisis poses to our country and how we live our everyday lives. It is a huge test for the international community, national Governments and local communities. Our government, like Governments before them, are following the scientific advice and we should follow the advice to wash our hands and when necessary self isolate. But in expecting our support the Government should also expect to be held to account including in Parliament. There are alternative scientific viewpoints and the Government need to be clear and transparent in the difficult judgement calls they are having to make.
There has been valid criticism of the government’s communications strategy and their initial slowness of response as I warned in my last column. It’s good that the Government is now raising its communications game. It is clear though that a major package of economic support for people and businesses will be crucial during this crisis. It doesn’t help the Government’s case however when many of the concerns about the shortage of Intensive Care beds, care for the elderly and the insecurity of employment have been evident since well before the COVID-19 crisis.
My office is continuing to provide the best service we can albeit without as much face to face contact. Across our community a lot of thought and planning is going into how we mobilise organisations and volunteers. At this time we are profoundly grateful to our NHS staff and other key public workers for whom this will undoubtedly be their greatest test.