Reassurance from Wokingham MP John Redwood this week amid the continued coronavirus outbreak. He writes;

The mood has been solemn in the last couple of weeks in Parliament as we have watched the Covid 19 epidemic spread to the UK. The government has kept us informed of the numbers and sought to trace contacts of those infected. As in many other countries it has not proved possible to prevent its transfer to people who have not travelled abroad.

Some constituents ask why the government did not ban return flights from Italy as the virus spread there. It is not easy in free societies to stop people travelling. If flights from Milan had been banned people would probably have travelled from North Italy to Switzerland or France to join onward connections. Governments depend on people reporting honestly and taking appropriate action.

In this case anyone returning from an infected area should self isolate if they have any symptoms.

The supermarkets tell us that food supplies are good and there is no need to panic buy items.

Some people have been buying up excessive quantities of dry goods and toilet rolls, which has led to occasional needs in shops to limit people to a normal quantity when buying. One constituent asked me what they could do given the shortage of antiseptic gels.

I suggested that they use soap and water to wash hands regularly as advised by the medical team involved in handling the outbreak.

Where more people to need to be isolated in their homes arrangements will be made for food deliveries.

I have given the government advice on what they should do to prevent the health problems becoming bigger economic problems. Whilst the government has not placed bans on travel, hospitality and tourism, numbers are clearly down in some locations.

Businesses that depend on revenue from these activities will be adversely affected, so I have proposed the government offer tax breaks from business rates and VAT. The Bank of England and the commercial banks need to ensure small businesses have access to cashflow loans to see them through any period of disruption to their turnover.

I look forward to the budget this week which should make some provision to help people through the economic consequences of the virus. I also want it to be a budget which gives a good boost to the economy, with a suitable mixture of increased spending on schools, hospitals and transport, and tax cuts to boost incomes and demand.