Boris Johnson has set out new guidelines for our country, as we start to look forward to the lifting of the restrictions that have been set to help us beat the coronavirus. From Wednesday this week garden centres will be able to re-open, and on Friday in Kent the Household Waste Recycling Centres will also open again. However, to visit the recycling centres you must make a booking which can be arranged through the Kent County Council website. In both cases social distancing rules to keep people two metres apart will apply, in order to restrict the spread of the virus.
The Prime Minister has also made clear that people working in jobs that they cannot do from home, like building and construction, gardening, or plumbing, should now feel free to return. Again, when travelling to work people should try to restrict any unnecessary close contact with people outside of their household, and avoid using public transport where possible. We are free to once again enjoy public spaces, like walking along the coast or using parks and gardens but should still do so within the social distancing guidelines. If you do not believe this is possible, then people are advised to wear a face mask when outside of their home.
There are very many specific questions that people have contacted me about, and if you have any comments about the Government's guidance please do get in touch. However, until such a point as the virus has been eliminated, and or we have a vaccine to protect us all, we will all have to use our best judgement to minimize the chance of it spreading. That means avoiding unnecessary journeys and restricting close social contact to people in your household.
Over the last week we have seen further increases in the number of migrants make illegal crossings of the Channel from France, and I have raised my concerns about these with Ministers at the Home Office. Good weather and calm seas have in the past encouraged people to make this dangerous journey, but the Home Secretary Priti Patel has made clear that she will do all she can to stop it. The Prime Minister has also previously stated to people thinking of making this crossing, ‘We will send you back. If you come illegally, you are an illegal migrant and, I'm afraid, the law will treat you as such.’ The Government is working closely with the authorities in France to detect people who are preparing to make an illegal crossing, and to identify them when they are in the water. Those found in French territorial waters are returned to France. To support this work, we have funded extra patrols along the French coast, aerial surveillance from drones and Border Force vessels operating at sea. The Channel is also regularly patrolled by the Royal Navy, and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. We have an agreement with the French authorities that migrant boats encountered in the Channel are taken to the nearest safe port, in accordance with international maritime law. Last year the Government also agreed a £6m deal for new video security equipment along the French Coast, to spot and prevent migrant groups before they embark the potentially treacherous voyage.