Anne Marie's Weekly Column - Covid-19 Update

Testing for Coronavirus

Good news! Devon is to be one of the first pilots of the new Test, Track and Trace system currently being rolled out in the Isle of Wight. This will give us all a greater sense of security and knowledge. This way we can track down the virus – and stop it in its tracks.

Right now, anyone aged 5 and above with symptoms of Coronavirus, is eligible for a test. If you are experiencing a loss of sense of smell or taste, a new, continuous cough, or a high temperature, you can book a test online by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus. After doubling lab capacity, setting up 50 regional test centres and 116 mobile testing units, and introducing home testing kits and 3 Lighthouse laboratories, the UK’s testing capacity continues to scale up towards 200,000 a day.

These extra tests will help slow the spread of the virus, allow key workers to return to work safely, and give healthy people the peace of mind they need. We will continue to give priority to NHS staff and care home residents and workers in order to protect our most vulnerable.

Getting Connected - 5G

We need a reliable mix of full-fibre broadband and mobile coverage, including 5G, to help businesses grow, promote the smart-delivery of public services and support our families, especially in the more rural areas.

The Government’s ‘5G Create’ competition is an open competition, with up to £30 million of government funding available to a variety of industries, with the aim of exploring and developing new use-cases and 5G technical capabilities. I am lobbying Devon County Council to enter this competition to give us the communication connectivity we desperately need.

Considerable research has been carried out on 5G and the Government is clear that there are absolutely no negative effects on public health. I understand that existing technical standards, which take into account international guidelines and research on non-ionizing radiation, are expected to be followed throughout the development of 5G products and networks.

Historic Bills – Historic Voting

Last week, the landmark Immigration Bill was debated in the House of Commons ending free movement and paving the way for a new points-based system. During the election six months ago, we promised the British people that we would introduce a firmer and fairer points-based immigration system that would attract people based on the skills they have, not where they are from. The Immigration Bill delivers on that promise and gives the UK full control of its immigration system for the first time in decades.

The equally historic Trade Bill was also debated in the House of Commons, establishing the UK as an independent trading power now we have left the EU. The current transition period with the EU will end on 31st December this year, and the UK will then have a fully independent trade policy that will allow us to strike ambitious new free trade deals with countries around the world. The Trade Bill makes sure we are prepared to make the most of new trading opportunities and will ensure that our trade policy reflects the needs and potential of the whole of the UK as we emerge from coronavirus.

The Government also announced the new UK Global Tariff regime so that, for the first time in 50 years, we can set our own tariffs tailored to the UK economy – benefitting households and businesses across the country. When transition ends at the end of the year, the new UK Global Tariff will make it easier and cheaper for businesses to import from overseas. It will simplify nearly 6,000 tariff lines and reduce costs for firms by reducing administrative burdens. This new regime will support the economy, with lower costs for consumers, and less red tape and complexity for business.

My next phone-in surgery will be Friday 5th June at 2-3pm. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.