It is with regret that we enter the new year with a new set of restrictions. Since writing last, things have developed rapidly and the situation that now presents itself is at a critical stage. Although the government has worked tirelessly to suppress the spread of the virus, a new variant has posed a further level of risk to public health. Hospital admissions are now at their highest since last March, which causes a very real concern about the pressures on our local healthcare services. Appropriate action has had to be taken so that everyone can continue to access health care when required, especially in emergencies.
As a Conservative, I fully appreciate the frustration many will feel about these new restrictions that have impeded our personal freedoms. I have given the government my full support on the basis that we all need to work together to protect each other, and the rules contain sufficient flexibility to enable us to continue helping each other out with vital tasks such as childcare and looking after the vulnerable.
It is critical for our whole community that we adhere to these new rules. Whilst the ‘stay at home’ message is, in essence, the same as we were faced with last March, outdoor exercise, vital to our physical and mental wellbeing, is actively encouraged, and I urge residents to take advantage of what our wonderful green spaces have to offer.
Throughout the whole of this pandemic I have kept in regular contact with shop keepers, pub landlords and other business leaders in our area. I know how hard this last year has been for so many of these businesses and that is why I was so pleased to hear that the Chancellor has announced fresh support packages worth £4.6 billion for the most affected businesses across the United Kingdom. Full guidance can be found on the gov.uk website but it includes a one-off grant for closed businesses in England of up to £9,000 and a £500m discretionary funding pool for councils to support local businesses.
I know this is challenging, but we go into this lockdown with a greater sense of optimism. The vaccine rollout is underway, and with the help of our fantastic health service, we can say with confidence that the end is in sight. For the time being, I urge residents to hold tight, follow the rules and to stay home wherever possible.
First published - MyLocalNews, January 2021