Rutland Times Op-Ed 23rd June

I write this on Tuesday, moments after the Prime Minister announced a further easing of the lockdown that will commence on Saturday 4th July.

I am incredibly pleased that from this date, residents will finally be able to reunite with their loved ones more wholesomely and two households of any size will be permitted to meet in any outdoor or indoor setting. I should be clear that it does not always have to be the same set of people, but urge residents not to meet multiple households indoors due to the risk of creating greater chains of transmission.

Despite the pandemic’s uniquely devastating impact on our pubs, it has been truly humbling to see them continue to be at the heart of our communities, with pubs such as the Old White Hart in Lyddington going above and beyond to contribute to the national effort.  

I welcome that pubs will be able to open their doors once more from July 4th with indoor table service only. As we are reunited with our beloved local establishments, the Government will work with the sector to implement effective mechanisms to collect contact details from customers – just in case Test and Trace contact is required.

Crucially from the same date, the two-metre social distancing rule will be changed to ‘one-metre plus’ in line with World Health Organisation guidance and following a Government-commissioned review which will be published online later this week. While we will still ask you to maintain a two metre distance if possible, it will be permitted to keep a minimum of one metre’s distance provided precautions to reduce the risk of transmission are in place. I urge residents to read the further guidance on these precautions on the Government’s website.

From July 4th, life will truly begin to feel like normal with hairdressers, campsites and places of worship permitted to reopen alongside visits to second homes allowed.

I am eternally grateful to you all for your perseverance and commitment to our country’s health and I recognise that these developments are extremely exciting, especially after the pain and sacrifice of the last few months.

However, the virus remains a threat to us all and the more we open up, the more vigilant you will need to be. I must be clear that every adjustment is conditional, reversible and guided by the best scientific evidence, but I have every faith that the good people of Rutland will continue to show the common sense and national spirit that has allowed us to make the progress we have so far.