The last time I wrote my column in the Observer, I wrote about keeping some perspective on the Coronavirus. We still do need to keep perspective on bulk, panic buying, but our focus must be on saving lives first and foremost - and our livelihoods. Over the past few days I have had residents ask me ‘why are we risking our economy’ and others, ‘why are we not locking down’? We needed to find the right balance, but at the end of the day, all human lives matter, they really, really do.
It is very hard for any Government of this country, particularly a Conservative one, which values the freedoms of individuals above the state, to consider restricting social and public freedom as if we live in an autocratic state. But this is what we must do and the Prime Minister has imposed restrictions as a last resort, to slow down the rapid spread of coronavirus and save as many lives as possible. The single most important thing we can do to fight coronavirus is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.
We are a country used to freedom – of doing what we want, when we want. We want prosperity, or at least a chance of it. We want happy, healthy children and as few people suffering as possible. This is a time for us all to take personal responsibility to ensure that as few people as possible suffer and die – including our NHS and key workers, who are all on the frontline of this war fighting to keep us and our families safe.
When I was elected your MP in December, it never occurred to me that I would be part of a government imposing such draconian legislation on the people of this country.
We are going to have to accept the reality of spending days and weeks in our homes day in, day out, except for very limited purposes; shopping infrequently for food and medicinal necessities; one form of exercise per day, alone or with members of your household; any medical need or to provide care or help to a vulnerable person; and travelling to and from work, only where you cannot work from home.
Hastings and Rye residents have so many strengths, but the next few weeks are going to require us all to pull out, from deep within ourselves, a different kind of fortitude; of patience, tolerance, restraint and ultimately, sacrifice. Our family relationships and mental health will be put under pressure. We will all have to live our lives in a different way to what we have all been used to, and for those who say ‘I cannot do this’, you must.
It is times like this which whittles the wheat from the chaff; the givers and takers; finding our strength in adversity.
It is our duty. A duty for all of us to do what must done, whatever our age, and I know that you amazing people of Hastings and Rye will rise to this challenge, however hard it might be. Together we will fight this and together we must, because in our darkest moments we become strong.
Sally-Ann Hart MP