“We have entered unchartered territory as a nation following new rules on social distancing announced this week.
Covid-19 is continuing to spread throughout the UK as more cases are confirmed and tragically, the number of deaths continues to rise.
Our NHS staff - including those right here in our borough - are already working hard to treat anyone affected. In return, we must do all we can to support them - by looking after each other and, crucially, staying at home to 'flatten the curve'.
You should only leave home for one of the four reasons:
- shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
- one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk or cycle - alone or with members of your household
- any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home
- full guidance is available here
For many, these restrictions were expected. In fact some people had been calling upon the government to put in place a 'lockdown' to help protect the most vulnerable in our society.
But for others, I know they may bring about heightened levels of anxiety. Some will understandably be worried about getting enough food and supplies if they become ill or not being able to socialise with family and friends for a while.
These certainly are unprecedented times.
But this is Barrow. We are a community of compassionate people who instinctively take care of others.
For this reason, I know we will all get through this.
Maintaining wellbeing is vital, and we will be sharing information, links and resources to organisations that can help on our social media channels in the coming days and weeks.
Already we have seen many people step forward as volunteers, eager to help those around them. This is something I knew would happen and of which I am immensely proud.
Systems are being put in place right now so these people can be called upon when needed.
We need to follow and live by these new rules for at least the next three weeks, so while I know people are keen to help straight away, please be assured, we will be in touch very soon.
For others, the best thing we can do is to stay at home.
Let me be very clear - this is the most powerful step we can take to protect our family, friends, neighbours and colleagues. Staying at home will save lives.
It's essential that we all play our part and do our bit. No-one should consider themselves a special case or an exception to the rules.
I want to say thank you to all those in key roles who we simply cannot manage without. Of course this means everyone working within or supporting the NHS, those making sure we can access medicines as well as our dedicated emergency services teams.
But to me, these key roles include the hidden heroes in our midst - those working in supermarkets and shops across Barrow who are operating under difficult circumstances to keep shelves stocked and supplies coming through.
Also, many of our own borough council employees who are adapting as quickly as possible to keep essential services running for residents.
The hard work of these people should never be overlooked or underestimated.
Changing the way we live our daily lives is not easy. It's a big challenge, but one that will have the greatest effect possible on the spread of coronavirus.
Please stay safe and continue to do all you can to protect yourselves and others. Nothing is more important than this.”