D&S column: together we will beat this virus

Unprecedented and life-changing – that’s the scale of the challenge the nation faces.

But however daunting the immediate prospect is I want you all to know we will get through it.

Two principles have driven the Government’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The first is to keep people safe. The second is to sustain our economy through the storm.

The economic measures I have announced in recent days are designed to protect businesses, jobs and incomes until we have beaten the virus.

And beat it we will.

It will take a huge national collective effort with everyone – government, business and people – having a role to play.

And now, more than any time in our recent history, we will be judged by our capacity for compassion.

Our ability to come through this won’t just be down to what government or business can do, but by the individual acts of kindness we show one another.

When this is over, and it will be over, we want to look back at this moment and remember the many small acts of kindness done by us and to us.

We want to look back at this time and remember how we thought first of others and acted with decency.

We want to look back on this time and remember how, in the face of a generation-defining moment, we rose to the challenge - and we stood together, if not literally but emotionally.

In the two weeks since the Budget when I announced the first set of measures designed to sustain the economy through the crisis – and that seems such a long time ago now – I have been heartened to hear of all the wonderful things – those small and not-so-small acts of kindness – that have been happening back home in North Yorkshire.

I am talking here of the COVID-19 community support groups set up on social media to ensure nobody is left isolated – particularly those, typically the elderly, not digitally connected as the majority of us are.

Those groups – in Northallerton, Richmond, Stokesley, Bedale and Leyburn - are doing amazing work to protect the vulnerable in our communities.

As our many of our businesses which are adapting to the new reality – particularly those food-related enterprises who have been setting up home delivery operations from scratch.

There’s now a list of those groups and home delivery services on my website.

I want to thank everyone who is doing what they can in these extraordinary times.

I particularly want to thank everyone in our National Health Services – the front line – for what they are doing to treat those who have fallen ill.

Thank you to the doctors and the nurses but also to all the other NHS staff in a huge range of ancillary and support roles without whom the medical staff could not do their incredibly demanding jobs.

Thank you to our local councils – North Yorkshire County and Hambleton and Richmondshire Districts - for maintaining essential services, particularly in the care sector.

Thank you to our local schools and their staff who ensuring our key workers have the childcare they need to get to work.

And I want to thank every single one of you for observing the social distancing advice which I know is hard.

I am aware of the irresponsible behaviour in the Dales and other tourism areas at the weekend but those people represent a tiny minority.

The vast majority are behaving responsibly. The vast majority are doing their best under difficult circumstances. The vast majority are pulling together.

And by pulling together we will get through this.