Over-70s curfew

I AGREE totally with the letters about the “curfew” for all over-70s (HAS, March 18). Surely we are all capable of making up our own minds about when we should go in to the company of other people?I can see further complication for the NHS after our confinement, when there will be problems with movement and with mental health.

It is good to hear on the local radio that people are rallying around those who are not able to get out, using social media, Facebook and Facetime, but there will be many older folk, myself included who do not use these and don’t want to use them.

Ann Lake, Ferryhill.

Signing on

I HAVE just read Stephanie Finnegan’s letter about signing on regarding the coronavirus pandemic (HAS, Feb 17).

I was totally gobsmacked that Jobcentres have not been told to close their doors.

Thousands of people sign on in Jobcentres every day, yet the Government have made zero efforts to reduce the spread of this virus within these walls.

People are bombarded by the media to stay indoors, avoid large groups, don’t go into pubs and clubs, so what makes Jobcentres

immune from the coronavirus?

There is huge risk not only to the staff who work there but to the tens of thousands of job seekers who are forced to sign on in person under threat of having benefits removed for non attendance (known as a sanction).

Jobcentres are extremely crowded, close contact places.

This is one occasion where face-to-face appointments can very easily be replaced by a job centre phone call or email.

Stephen Dixon, Redcar.

NOTE: On Monday, the Department for Work and Pensions put on hold in-person assessments for disability benefit claimants as a precautionary measure against unnecessary exposure to infection.

School closures

IF children are still in school there is every chance that the children will pass on the coronavirus among themselves then pass it on to their parents.

Common sense needs to be used. Close the schools.

I speak as a parent who has two children already off with what looks like the virus.

Michael Andrew Clark, Sunnybrow.

State control

IT was Margaret Thatcher who once infamously said, “there is no such thing as society”. Thatcher is widely admired by most Conservative MPs including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

When Thatcher came to power in 1979 Britain had Europe’s most comprehensive welfare state, public housing was widely available, there were large emergency stocks of basic foods and the UK still had a significant manufacturing base.

Over the last 40 years all this safety net has disappeared and now we are faced with what is almost certainly the worst social crisis since the Blitz in 1940.

Workers who self-certify on the sick are forced to feed a family on £94 per week statutory sick pay, the self-employed whose businesses close can claim Employment Support Allowance at the princely sum of £74 per week and redundant workers claiming Universal Credit must wait five weeks for miserly amounts of benefit.

In addition, millions now live under the fear of being evicted by private landlords, food stocks are pitifully low and there is only one small company left in the UK which can manufacture respirators.

I am not an expert on coronavirus, but the lessons from China, Taiwan and South Korea show that with massive state intervention the risk to the public can be considerably reduced.

Therefore, in order to save hundreds of thousands of lives this government must abandon free market capitalism and the state take over health, food distribution and all other essential services for the duration of this crisis.

John Gilmore, Bishop Auckland


THE Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, certainly looked the part and said the right things in support of businesses and working people.

We hope the actions will speak louder than the words.

The Chancellor continues to the splash the cash with large amounts.

He needs to get the support out there quickly to those who are in immediate need, if he does “we will get through this”.

George Dunning, Ormesby.


FOOTBALL is the most important of the least important things.

Jurgen Klopp’s message to Liverpool fans regarding coronavirus was superb.

This puts everything in the right perspective and makes Bill Shankly’s comment about football being more important than life and death sound so crass.

Not everyone likes football, but all have families, so a big hand to Mr Klopp for his observations and sensitivity.

Gary Mundell, West Auckland.


AS an 80-year-old, may I add my voice to those who have already written to express their dismay at the Government’s isolation program for the over-70s.

There is good evidence online from China showing that the virus attacks the elderly only because the greatest number of persons suffering ill-health are naturally in this age group.

The early statistics show however, that it is not age which puts people at risk so much as underlying ill-health, persons of any age who are reasonably fit make up less than one per cent of fatalities.

Instead of putting ten million people under house arrest, would it not be better to concentrate on helping those who are already ill and in danger instead of the impractical overkill proposals now being suggested.

Tom Teasdale, Eaglescliffe.

Other pandemic

IN 1957 I was a pupil at the Queen Elizabeth 1st Grammar School in Darlington.

It was my second year there and I was in Class 4A.

The NHS was less than ten years old and the GP service was sketchy. So, when the Asian flu epidemic arrived my fellow students went down like ninepins.

At one point I was the only boy attending and somehow managed to avoid the bug.

Needless to say the teaching staff had also been decimated.

But somehow we kept going and saw it through.

This virus also originated in China and swept the planet with an estimated death toll of between one and four million.

These days we are much better prepared to deal with the latest pandemic. I hope that readers see it safely through and if any of them are infected they make a full recovery.

D W Lacey, Durham.

Calm down

THERE are many people who have medical conditions which require them to take such as Aspirin and Paracetamol, several times day, but they’re now running short or having to go without those same drugs.

This is because people are stock piling drugs and are leaving the shelves empty.

People need to realise that food items aren’t running out.

The nation isn’t facing starvation and food retailers are refilling the shelves.

However, the fear behind the stock piling has led to a massive drop in donations to foodbanks.

Consequently, those who need our help will only suffer further because of the irrational behaviour of people. It’s understandable that people are concerned by the coronavirus and how it will affect them. But far too many need to calm down and think about what they actually need.

CT Riley, Spennymoor.