“NORMAL employment law has not ceased to apply” – that was the message from local MP Rachel Maclean to Redditch residents fearful of going back to work due to coronavirus and the possible lack of social distancing.
In a far-reaching interview she defended the government’s handling of the crisis, denied health staff had run out of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and questioned the reliability of comparing the death toll from coronavirus in the UK with other countries.
And she also stood by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘Stay Alert’ message saying the government was treating people like adults and asking them to use their commonsense by not putting themselves of others at risk.
“My experience from talking to the people of Redditch is that they understand this is a difficult situation but that the great British public do have a great deal of common sense,” she said.
She added that there was ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ and, in a borough where the deal toll from coronavirus up to May 1 was the lowest in Worcestershire at 36 – compared to Bromsgrove at 86 and Stratford District at 110 – to ‘stick with’ the lockdown rules.
“I want to thank you, the people of Redditch, for what you are doing for the community. Thank you for abiding the lock down rules, do not give up yeet for there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
For anyone uncomfortable about returning to work or about social distancing at work, she said: “We have been really clear about what you should do in that no one should be in a position where they do not feel safe.
“Normal employment laws have not ceased to apply – talk to your union and if you haven’t got one to the Health and Seafety Executive – write to your MP or council.”
On UK deaths from coronavirus she said: “Every single death is a tragedy for that family and their friends.
“This is an unprecedented situation and there are a lot of numbers being thrown about but there’s an issue on how they record the data making it impossible to compare.”
She said she was unfamiliar with the figure of 20,000 deaths being seen as a ‘good outcome’ – a number proposed by the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance back in mid-March.
At the time of writing the number of fatalities stands at 33,186.
On PPE she said that although at times supplies may have run low, but that there had always been enough in Worcestershire.
“There have been times when they only had a small supply left but there is no evidence that I’ve been told about where we did not have enough kit in Worcestershire,” she said.
She added that getting back to work would not only really help people feel much better but also help the economy, and keep people in business.