The Leader Times Series May 15th 2020

Having seen the rate of spread of coronavirus slow due to social distancing, the Prime Minister was able to announce on Sunday that we can begin to look to loosen the lockdown. This week has seen new guidance issued on how schools may reopen in due course, and some businesses can get back to work safely.

This is good news for so many reasons. Millions of jobs have effectively been suspended by coronavirus and sadly lost in many cases. Lives have been put on hold with friends and families unable to safely see each other for weeks. We all long to get back to something close to normal.

However, the virus is still out there, and it will take a huge effort from all of us if we are to continue to relax the lockdown and still keep its transmission under control. The aim of the new guidance is to let us get out lives back to normal as much as possible, without letting the virus get back out of control.

That’s why the changes announced over the past week have been modest. We are still supposed to stay at home as much as possible. We should be working from home if we can. Whilst some restrictions on exercise and being outdoors have been relaxed, social distancing is still the order of the day.

My team and I continue to work from home. However, I did have to pop into my Nelson office for one reason this week – to vote in Parliament. For the first time in its history, meaningful votes on legislation took place online and I was only able to manage to vote from the computer in the office.

Inevitably, some teething problems were made with very senior and loyal politicians from both aides accidentally voting the wrong way!  Thankfully, I managed to register my vote for the Agriculture Bill, which will bring in a new approach to farm and land management that will encourage farmers to make improvements to the environment and animal welfare.

It will be great to get back to normal. For now, we need to make the best of the situation we can and remember why we’re doing this – to save lives.