The Prime Minister announced yesterday plans for people in England to set up so-called ‘support bubbles’.
From Saturday, a person living alone or with children under 18, can form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. This allows them to go to each other’s houses, stay overnight, and they do not have to adhere to the 2m social distancing rule.
The important restriction is that you can only have one bubble per household and this cannot include people who are shielding. Also, if anyone in the bubble experiences symptoms, all the people in the group will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
I welcome the scheme as I know many of you have felt isolated during this time and have missed the connection and support of friends and family. These plans will benefit many people such as grandparents living alone who want to see their children and grandchildren, couples who live apart and single people who want to spend time with friends & family.

PLACES OF WORSHIP UPDATE
Places of worship will be allowed to open this weekend for independent prayer and in adherence to the COVID-19 safety rules. Please contact your local place of worship for further information.

CHALLENGES WITH SOCIAL DISTANCING FOR THE BLIND & PARTIALLY SIGHTED
Social distancing has been tricky for all of us to navigate but imagine trying to do this while being blind or partially sighted. Research carried out by the RNIB has shown blind and partially sighted people have faced significant challenges with accessing supermarkets which has led to them feeling less independent and at worse having to ration food. The social pressure to keep to the rules are also causing additional stress and worry.
There is concern that these challenges will be replicated more widely as services begin to open up again after lockdown. The visual nature of restrictions risks a disproportionate impact on blind and partially sighted people, restricting their ability to access services and transport.
The RNIB have created this video explaining to sighted people why it might be difficult for blind and partially sighted people to social distance. I would urge you to watch the video and when you are out and about please be considerate and understanding of everyone but especially those who may have the added challenge of trying to adhere to the rules whilst being blind or partially sighted.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON LESS SURVIVABLE CANCER TREATMENT
The Less Survivable Cancer Taskforce have been in touch and shared their concern about the drop in referrals for suspected cancer (~55% normal levels) and the consequent fall in diagnoses. They have heard that some people with potential cancer symptoms are still delaying seeking help.
Can I ask you all to contact your GP immediately if you have any potential cancer symptoms. This includes changes to bowel habits, abdominal pain, headaches, bleeding and persistent coughs. Early and fast diagnosis is absolutely critical for the less survivable cancers.

NEW PLANNING GUIDANCE AIMS TO ENCOURAGE SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL IN THE BOROUGH
A guidance document has been approved outlining the role new development should play in relation to active travel, public transport, roads, and parking in Richmond.
A Transport Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) has now been finalised to help people when they are submitting planning applications. It details the expectations for planning applications and signposting to existing plans and further information that may assist in the development of applications.
Creating space in the borough that encourages walking and cycling is a high priority for the Council as part of its sustainability ambitions. This will also make it easier for people to observe social distancing measures and avoid the increased risk on public transport, where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
To see the SPD, go to: www.richmond.gov.uk/supplementary_planning_documents_and_guidance

CONSIDERATE CYCLING, WALKING & JOGGING
I have received lots of messages concerning people being more aware and considerate while they are out and about. Whether that be social distancing on pathways, adhering to the highway code whilst cycling on the roads or families cycling on pavements.
As we all have found ways to adapt to the new normal, it is important that we are all considerate and mindful of those around us so we can all work together to get through the crisis.
I for one am encouraged to see more people taking part in active travel and getting lots of fresh air and exercise across the borough. I would just ask that everyone thinks about the other road, path and pavement users around them and ensure they are not having a negative impact on other people.
As a reminder here are the current guidelines for cycling in Richmond Park.
And here is a link to The Highway Code.

LATEST GUIDANCE ON HOSPITAL VISITS
The pandemic has, up until now, led to extra restrictions on visiting someone in hospital. The guidance has said that most visitors would not be allowed but from 5th June this has changed and rules around visiting are now down to individual NHS Trusts. They will make decisions based on the threat of the virus and the best way to keep everyone safe.
Anyone who does want to visit someone in hospital should get in contact with the ward they are staying in to find out what the visiting policy is and what precautions they need to take when going into the hospital. More information can be found here.

Sarah

Sarah Olney MP
www.SarahOlneyMP.org.uk
email: office@saraholneymp.org.uk

Earlier updates can be accessed here.