Earlier this week the Prime Minister made the eagerly anticipated announcement that pubs, restaurants and hairdressers would be able to re-open from the 4th July, subject to being able to implement the necessary social distancing measures.
Further to this, residents will be pleased to hear that certain leisure facilities, tourist attractions and others may also reopen, if they can do so safely – this includes outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.
One of the most difficult aspects of the restrictions implemented to combat Coronavirus has been not being able to see family, or having to choose which family to see. I was therefore delighted to hear that from the 4th July two households, of any size, will be able to meet indoors for the first time since lockdown was introduced. This doesn’t have to be the same household each time, for example it will be possible to meet one set of grandparents one weekend, and the other grandparents the following weekend.
Another announcement made by the Prime Minister was that people would be able to stay away from home overnight, and that holiday accommodation, including hotels, B&B and campsites will be able to re-open. This will be a welcome boost to the tourism industry, and I understand there has already been very high demand as families look to book a staycation.
While this is extremely welcome news, it is important to acknowledge that the threat from Coronavirus has not gone away. We must ensure that we are continuing to follow social distancing guidelines, and that we keep washing our hands regularly. If infections start to rise, then the Government is not afraid to put the brakes on, or even re-impose restrictions if necessary.
Sadly, the Coronavirus outbreak has had a devastating impact on the UK, and global, economy. Despite the Governments financial aid to businesses, including some of the most generous government support schemes in the world, there are, sadly, unavoidable job losses. However, there is scope for optimism, as a poll by Reuters of 80 economists predicted a significant bounce back next quarter as more and more businesses re-open. As the Government slowly, and cautiously eases lockdown restrictions, economists are predicting that that the next quarter (Q3) will see 10.5 percent growth. However, the economic recovery won’t happen overnight, and there is still a long way to go until we fully recover – but, this is at least a step in the right direction as I have been active in Parliament working on the various employment support packages – this is vital work.
On a final positive as part of its manifesto at the last general election, the Government promised 50,000 more nurses in the NHS by the end of this Parliament. Yesterday, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that there are now 12,000 more nurses working in the NHS than a year ago – this is a very positive step towards meeting this target, and I am very proud of the work the Government has done through a combination of recruitment and retention.