On message: The clear mantra from politicians
Josh Halliday, Guardian 10 April
The importance of staying at home and not making unnecessary journeys, including to older relatives, has been hammered home since the Covid-19 outbreak began.
Government ministers including Robert Jenrick have taken to the airwaves every day for weeks to urge the public to #StayHomeSaveLives, as the communities secretary put it in a tweet on Wednesday.
However, Jenrick travelled to visit his parents at the weekend, 40 miles from his own home. He said he went to drop off food and medicines. But that explanation is bound to come under scrutiny – given his own public utterances, which have included repeated pleas for people to turn to local communities to provide this kind of support.
The disclosure also comes just days after Scotland’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, resigned following the revelation that she had twice visited her holiday home in Earlsferry, Fife, and been to the local beach during the lockdown. Calderwood, who had been the public face of the “stay at home” mantra in Scotland, apologised for the breach before being asked to resign by the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
The government’s instructions could not be clearer: “Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home); if you go out, stay two metres away from other people at all times; wash your hands as soon as you get home.”
Crucially, they add: “Do not meet others, even friends or family. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms’
Regarding relatives, the instructions say: “You should not be visiting family members who do not live in your home. You should keep, in touch using phone or video calls.”
The document adds that if they are elderly or vulnerable “you may leave your house to help them, for example, by dropping shopping or medication at their door”. It is understood that Jenrick’s parents have had support from members of the local community.
The lockdown was introduced to stop the spread of the disease. It is designed to shield those who are most vulnerable, such as older people and those with underlying health issues.
Senior police officers have backed the warnings. Nottinghamshire police, whose patch covers Jenrick’s Newark seat, said this week: “We all need to contribute to the national effort to respond to coronavirus and reduce the spread of the disease. People need to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.”
PS Owl understands that Robert Jenrick is not in Nottinghamshire at his Newark constituency, but at his luxurious second home in Herefordshire – perhaps he is contemplating how to spend is £10k special expenses?