The good news is we are now halfway through this national lockdown. I hope that when we reach December 2nd, we can revert to tier one level of restrictions here in the South West, or something close to it, enabling all shops to open and restaurants for food and drink.
I feel very sorry for the small shops that have had to close when the supermarkets, hardware stores and garden centres have remained open. The line between essential and non-essential goods is very blurry. I hope local shops will have a bumper three weeks when/if they can reopen. What little Christmas shopping I do personally will be done in local small shops and I encourage everyone to think similarly.
Devon MPs are meeting weekly to thrash out what restrictions (or lack thereof) we want to see for our region following 2nd December, based on the data about Covid transmission here at the time and reflecting our local needs. We will be submitting this to Downing Street next week.
Since we started this lockdown some positive things have happened. The news on a potential vaccine is very encouraging, both from Pfizer and Moderna. Both use a similar method to attack the virus as do a number of the other trials including the Oxford University trial, so hopefully more good news to come. If we can start to roll out the first vaccine in early December, many of us can expect to be vaccinated by Easter at the latest and can emerge blinking into the sunlight once more. Unless there are mutations that set us back, we can expect to see our country and economy moving again by next summer.
That is also the time by when we should have ironed out any immediate wrinkles from Brexit. I am still expecting a trade deal, but even with a deal there will be bumps in the road to start with.
Summer 2021 could be the time when we feel more positive again.
I greatly welcome the green plan announced by the PM this week which will root our social and economic activity in sustainability. Going green will help save our planet and create many thousands of new jobs. Our region is especially well placed to benefit from this green revolution, both in the generation of wind and wave power and by enabling people to work from home in this beautiful natural environment.
It has been a really tough time. I know that many are really struggling, both financially and with mental health. But better times lay around the corner.