New measures have come into effect to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant which are precautionary steps to bolster our wall of defence against Covid-19. The Omicron variant is a stark reminder that we are not yet out of this pandemic, and we must take steps to protect the gains we have made in our fight against the virus. These new measures will help to slow the spread of the variant come into effect – all travellers to the UK will be required to take a lateral flow or PCR test before their departure and will not be allowed to travel if they receive a positive result, and measures will be reviewed once further data about Omicron is available. While we continue to assess the Omicron variant and take further steps if necessary, vaccines remain our first line of defence and we urge everyone who is eligible to come forward for their booster jab. With Christmas around the corner, it is crucial that everybody who is eligible gets a booster jab to top up their immunity before spending time with their loved ones. This will help to strengthen our wall of defence against Covid-19 and allow everyone to enjoy Christmas safely with their families and loved ones. We have an older demographic in North Cornwall, spread across a rural constituency, so there are many people who are vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, and this is something that I must always consider when considering further measures.
I recently toured the site of the new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and Health Skills Centre for North Cornwall which is being built by Truro and Penwith College through the Government’s £6.8m through the Government’s Getting Building Fund (GBF). The new centre, called the Ottery building, will initially offer a range of programmes aimed at meeting the needs of the engineering, manufacturing, digital and health sectors. This will include access courses aimed at adults wanting to enter higher education and retrain for high skilled local careers. The 1,918 square metre centre will train over 300 people a year, with over 120 learners on apprenticeships and T-Level qualifications, and support 150 businesses in the next five years. Truro and Penwith College is working closely with local employers and business groups to make sure the courses on offer match what industry needs. North Cornwall needs first-class facilities like these to stay competitive and give local people more opportunities, and investment from the Government’s Getting Building Fund is making that happen. This is a UK leading facility right here in North Cornwall. It has the potential to change life chances for our children here and I am proud to support it.