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Newspaper deliveries ‘have never been so important’, say Norfolk’s MPs

PUBLISHED: 17:12 30 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:31 30 March 2020

The region's MPs spoke with one voice as they backed the vital role of local newspapers in the coronavirus crisis. Picture: Archant

The region's MPs spoke with one voice as they backed the vital role of local newspapers in the coronavirus crisis. Picture: Archant

Archant

Norfolk’s MPs have backed the “vital” role of local newspapers in keeping the elderly and isolated informed throughout the coronavirus crisis - and urged people to keep having their news delivered to the doorstep.

The region’s MP’s spoke with one voice as they echoed official advice from the cabinet and the World Health Organisation (WHO) and reassured people that local news - and paper deliveries - had a crucial part to play in keeping communities connected.

They said paper deliveries would ensure people:

• Stayed well-informed about national news and local support,

• Received vital updates in the “safest way”,

• Got “reliable information” from a trusted source,

• Were regularly checked on if they were isolated or vulnerable,

• And had a “comforting routine” to look forward to.

READ MORE: Number of coronavirus cases in Norfolk tops 100 as 10th death is confirmed

It comes after the government urged people to have the news brought to them at home - rather than heading out to the shops.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Newspaper deliveries can - and should - still take place. In order to stop the spread of this virus, what we all want to see is less people leaving the house to go to the shops.

“Home deliveries are an important part of this battle to keep people self-isolating.”

And Norwich-based virus expert George Lomonossoff reassured worried readers that newspapers were safe to read.

He said: “Newspapers are pretty sterile because of the way they are printed. Traditionally, people have eaten fish and chips out of them for that reason.

“The chances [of catching the virus] are infinitesimal.”

READ MORE: Norwich scientist working on coronavirus vaccine

Richard Bacon, Conservative MP for South Norfolk, said: “In the present crisis, the role of newspapers, radio and television is absolutely vital in ensuring that people know what is happening and receive regular updates on what the government is asking us all to do to keep everyone safe.

“The safest way to receive your newspaper is to have it delivered.

“Many local shops are doing an excellent job in keeping our communities going, including maintaining newspaper deliveries.”

While Peter Aldous, Waveney’s MP, stressed the vital role of deliveries in keeping an eye on the most isolated.

“There are an awful lot of people who do still rely on their daily newspaper for updates and for highlighting the community support out there as well, which is so important,” he said.

“In some of the more far flung parts of Norfolk and Suffolk, the internet connections are not possibly as good as they should be and that does put a much greater emphasis on newspapers.”

The Conservative MP added: “Those providing newspapers can do so while complying with social distancing arrangements and they should do so, but also if they’re going daily they can spot if there are issues such as curtains left drawn or milk bottles uncollected, and they can flag those up.

“That’s really important and I’m very supportive of that.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: It could take six months or more to get back to normal, medical officer says

And Jerome Mayhew (Cons) said: “One of the businesses that the government have said should stay open is newsagents, and there’s a good reason for that.”

The Broadland MP added: “People need to stay well informed both on national matters but also on local matters in Norfolk.”

Duncan Baker, (Cons) MP for North Norfolk, also spoke out in support, and said: “At the moment, having that newspaper come through the door to keep abreast of what’s happening is something to enjoy and look forward to.

“It’s really comforting and gives you a routine of ‘here comes the paper’, I’ll sit and flip through that for a couple of hours.

“I’m fully supportive of that.”

While Norwich’s two MPs, Clive Lewis (Lab) and Chloe Smith (Cons) both urged the public to support their local news outlets.

READ MORE: ‘Extremely slow’, ‘opaque’ and ‘phenomenal’: Norfolk’s MPs’ views on the government’s coronavirus action

Mr Lewis, Norwich South MP, said: “I’m supportive of local news and the job that they’re doing in trying to make sure people are kept informed, engaging people with their local communities, and aware of best practice.

“The dissemination of reliable information at a time when we’re all so isolated has become more important than ever.

“I think it reminds people of the importance of local news - there are many outlets who have gone under and it should remind us local news papers are crucial.”

While Norwich North’s MP added: “Delivery services may never have been so important if done safely.

“And local papers across the country, like our Eastern Daily Press (EDP) and Evening News, are working hard to help the community stay connected.”

And South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss added: “Local newspapers provide a key platform for advice and information, update residents on their communities and for those self-isolating at home, a link to the outside world.”

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman said: “The local paper - in our area the EDP and the parish magazine - is both a vital source of information for local communities and a community of support in itself.

“Medics say the risk from newspaper delivery is infinitesimal.

“Let’s keep washing our hands and keep the local paper delivery.”


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