Prime Minister Boris Johnson - in a national address watched by millions earlier this month - outlined new guidance on tackling coronavirus such as members of two households meeting in a public place, albeit keeping two metres apart.
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, who is also Sheffield City Region’s mayor, blasted the confusing message which saw the Prime Minister urge people to go back to work if they couldn’t work from home provided they try and avoid public transport.
Dan said the statement ran the risk of ‘muddying the message’ when ‘clarity is crucial’ and that the social distancing measures had ‘started to fray’.
“We have already seen social distancing measures start to fray in some places over the weekend, as the government’s mixed messages give the impression that things are beginning to return to normal,” he said.
“Concerningly, the political consensus we had across the UK is starting to crumble. The vague instruction to ‘stay alert’ is only going to make that worse.
“The government is understandably not able to give an exact timeline for the easing of the lockdown, but they do need to be clear about what conditions need to be in place before the lockdown will be eased, and the scientific evidence on which that judgement is based.
“Critically, we need to listen to and follow the medical and scientific advice and proceed with caution to avoid triggering a second peak.
“The government now needs to get a grip on their communications, work tirelessly to get the ‘R’ rate below one and they urgently need to further develop testing and tracing capabilities. A credible strategy of test, trace and isolate will be key.
“I urge the government to work closely with mayors and local council leaders to ensure that any easing of the lockdown is smooth and orderly, and done in such a way that supports communities and businesses both locally and the whole country.
“Additionally, all those millions of people across South Yorkshire and the UK who are currently furloughed need the certainty that it will not be suddenly cut off, but that it will continue with enough flexibility to support everyone.”
Barnsley Council’s director of public health, Julia Burrows, has confirmed the local authority is working on a new contact tracing system that is crucial to the next stage of tackling coronavirus, according to the government.
An app is currently being tested by the NHS on the Isle of Wight, and it is hoped that it will be rolled out across the country if the trial proves successful.
Ms Burrows added: “We are working with regional and national colleagues on the new contact tracing system as part of the next phase of the response to Covid-19.”