Opinion: Craig Mackinlay MP -A changed phase in our domestic battle against Coronavirus

Craig Mackinlay

There will be many things to reflect upon once the Coronavirus crisis passes. One will be the VE75 celebrations, much muted because of the lockdown. I’m not one to generously praise the BBC these days, particularly across their political reporting and balance, but they did an exceptional job and I congratulate them for their broadcast on the day.

As ever, at times of crisis, celebration, and remembrance, Her Majesty The Queen brought an exceptional perspective as the only international Head of State still alive to have seen service during WWII. Looking at the archive footage of the day, one can only imagine the sense of relief, the jubilation and the joy at the news that hostilities had ceased and that the allies had been victorious against the evil of the Nazis. There are fewer and fewer still alive who were engaged in the conflict: we will never forget their sacrifice and of those who fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy today.

We now enter a changed phase in our domestic battle against Coronavirus, with the change of advice from ‘Stay at Home’ to ‘Stay Alert’. What does this mean? It means that the government does not intend to exercise draconian powers over our lives for any longer than is necessary.

It means that we are all able to act sensibly and are freer to do so. Advice in the workplace has subtly changed with an encouragement to return to work as far as is possible, freedom to visit parks and beaches whilst maintaining social distancing and to look forward to a medium-term re-opening of some school classes and hospitality. All is predicated on keeping the ‘R’ number – the rate of transmission below 1 so that, over time, the overall rate of infection diminishes and the number of us needing NHS care similarly drops.

The effectiveness of the lockdown is being seen with less intensive care bed occupancy and reducing daily death rates. This does not mean that all can revert to normal – there are serious challenges within the care home sector which must be urgently addressed through testing of staff and residents to lower infection and death rates. My weekly video conference meetings with Kent & Medway NHS executives covers all of these relevant points.

There is much justifiable concern about the seemingly unchecked numbers of migrants making the journey, on inflatable boats, from France to the shores of Kent. People ask why they are not returned to France, an obviously safe country? They ask how on earth they are not prevented from launching from the beaches in what are highly organised (and lucrative) operations by traffickers; and what of the Covid-19 status of these people?

There is a detailed action plan in progress and I have been updated by the Home Secretary. It requires more action by the French authorities, and an obviously more robust approach by all. I share residents annoyance but I am satisfied that this appears high on the government’s list of priorities. This is a complex subject of international, maritime and EU law, and bilateral agreement with France. If it were simple it would have been solved. I am confident it will be.

Small victories – I am pleased that Household Waste Recycling Centres will re-open from this Friday, with residents able to book in a slot. This follows concerted effort by Kent MPs; details on the KCC website. Additional funding of £1.5m and £1.4m have been awarded to Thanet District Council and Dover District respectively to compensate, in part, for the additional financial pressures and potential lost revenues.

There is also another £3m each for the councils to expand the Business Support Grants beyond the £30m each already allocated and largely distributed to date. The new scheme will allow the councils additional discretion to make awards to businesses not covered by the original blanket scheme. These amounts pale into virtual insignificance when we consider that some £50m per month will be flowing into the South Thanet constituency to support the employed and self-employed support schemes. Truly unprecedented and beyond any other international schemes.

Stay alert, control the virus, save lives. Keep well.


  1. Jingoism – Check
    Blame immigrants – Check
    No mention of airports having been open throughout though.

    No help for Thanet residents who fall through the gaps due to an ill conceived self employment scheme.

    Still no support for renters.

    But yay, rule Britannia etc.


    • How many British citizens have returned to the UK since the pandemic began here? Why weren’t they quarantined from the start, and why, if people can go back to work less than 24 hours after the announcement of the new regime, can’t people returning from abroad be tested and quarantined from today?

  2. Please ensure free school meals vouchers continue to be supplied through the summer holidays. This money is critical to feeding children in Thanet.

  3. Well said Sharon, can’t believe that in a country with so much wealth we depend on people like you to make sure our vulnerable children will at least have a meal. Is there any chance do you think that our priorities might change when and if we get through this terrible virus? I’ve got my doubts, after listening to our PM today it’s clear he has had a kick up the bum from his wealthy pals in the city who will always put the pound before people. Keep up the excellent work you do and thank you.

  4. How many less people would have died if the lockdown had been imposed two weeks earlier, rather than after the Cheltenham horse race meeting?

  5. Deaths in the UK continue to rise. A second spike cannot occur because the first wave has not gone. We are repeatedly deceived, numbers of deaths are understated, deaths out of hospital were not even recorded until 2 weeks ago. Testing is unsystematic we have no idea how widespread the virus is.
    By abandoning contact tracing on 12th March, when cases were a few hundred only, the Tory government abandoned the population to the virus. We were told to ‘take it on the chin’ by the PM. How many deaths did he mean our chins should take?
    Instead of Craig Mackinlay blaming the infection on a few hundred desperate people fleeing war and the horrors of camps in Calais to reach their relatives in the UK, he should examine his government’s actions. Why the Cheltenham races with 250,000 people present were still held as the virus was taking hold, and why 105,000 people EACH WEEEK arrive at Heathrow with no health checks or instructions on isolation and reporting symptoms. Now we are told to ‘Be Alert’. Death is in the air around us, we cannot see it Mr Johnson & your government inaction and premature calls to return to unsafe work places is condemning many thousands of people to preventable deaths.
    Where is the PPE you keep promising? How many more NHS and care workers will die without adequate PPE? And spread the virus in their work without protection of themselves and patients? Where is the reliable widespread testing & contact tracing?

  6. What help will be for those that due to a combination of PAYE and self employed but get no support from either employer or government?

    I’m sure there are many of these. Will anything be done to help?

  7. Mackinlay is party to this governments shambolic, and disastrous mess of not having a national policy to prevent the coronavirus spreading! He and his Tory colleagues have been responsible for running the NHS into the ground over the last ten years, leaving it a shadow of its once former self! It is 40,000 nurses short, is that due to the Tory’s making them pay for their own training?

    The QEQM is being broken up, scattering clinics far and wide, making us travel on a dilapidated, and inefficient public transport service to Canterbury, or Ashford, for routine, and long lasting ill health problems. Very soon we will have to start paying back the billions of pounds this Tory government is now squandering on trying to stitch society back together again! Britain has another record, we are 2nd only to America for the most deaths due to Covid 19, well done Tories! They couldn’t run a bath, yet people voted for them, why?

  8. Poor sign of leadership if you can’t start an address without slagging off your perceived opponent. The need to demonise the BBC reeks of Trumpist ‘fake news’ jeering. The old ‘compliment wrapped in an insult’ is fairly juvenile Craig. How about taking the current opportunity to address much needed improvements in cycling and pedestrian routes in Thanet in light of reduced traffic and increased demand? It is likely that we will see the increased localisation of economies due to COVID19, so how about a future facing plan to boost local business, rescue the local arts and entertainment sector, and protect heritage and green assets?

  9. People who voted for Johnson, or for any of his MP’s should take a serious look at themselves. People are dying because of this government and their holy quest to “get brexit done”.

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