Lots of local businesses and schools are reopening gradually as the country re-emerges blinking into the sunlight after lockdown.

Parliament has also returned to work in Westminster although most select committees and a hybrid Parliament have been sitting almost continuously since the beginning of the year. I am pleased that my twice-postponed debate in Parliament on Tenbury Flood Defences can also happen in the chamber. I’ve been in Westminster on sitting days and ‘zooming’ into Treasury Select Committee and for updates with our local councils, hospitals, care homes and the local resilience forum from home in Worcestershire. There is no doubt that the public health crisis has had a terrible effect on the economy. The treasury has been inventive in getting money to help people and businesses to retain jobs and livelihoods so that the economy can safely cross a bridge over the economic chasm that is lockdown. The numbers are eye-watering. Eight million jobs have been furloughed – that’s £15 billion in salaries, and 2.3 million self-employed people have had successful claims for support worth £6.8 billion. Our local councils have paid out millions in grants to business rate payers. In addition, Worcestershire has received a further £258 million in emergency Covid-related funding for care homes, business grants and business rates and council tax relief. The Coronavirus Job Retention scheme and the Self Employed Income Support Scheme have been extended and businesses have flexibility to re-employ furloughed workers on a part-time basis from next month. Over 600,000 ‘bounceback’ loans have been approved worth over £18 billion and nearly nine billion ‘business interruption’ loans. All of these are crucial measures to help the economy through these challenging times. Thank you to everyone working in the local NHS and all our essential workers for getting Worcestershire through this crisis. Even at the peak, there was capacity in the system and now the delayed operations are getting under way again. The vast majority of you have been keeping to the rules and helping to slow the spread of this terrible virus and gradually rules are being relaxed to allow people to do more outdoor exercise, see some friends and family while adhering to social distancing and taking steps to return to what will be the ‘new normal’ for all of us. It has meant significant changes and tremendous hardship for some. My email in box has been full of people raising concerns and I’ve been busy trying to help people wherever I can. But as we take the next steps towards dealing with the Covid-19 crisis, my advice to you is to use common-sense, stay alert and socially distant.