Entering Phase 3 of our Covid-19 recovery

I know it feels like a long time since the Covid-19 lockdown began, but thanks to the cooperation of the British people and the dedication of our NHS staff we have turned the tide and are seeing our country begin to open back up again.

The last few months have been very tough for local businesses, particularly for shops which have had to stay closed. That’s why I was pleased that we were able to re-open our high streets last month, and it’s great to see the town centres in Blackheath, Cradley Heath, Halesowen and Old Hill bustling again. I want to pay tribute to all the store managers, staff and cleaners who’ve been working hard to make social distancing possible in their shops and create a safe environment for customers to return.

I was pleased to see Halesowen News launch their ‘Love Local Business’ campaign on June 18th. Local business has long been the backbone of the British economy, and now more than ever we need to support our independent traders to ensure they can bounce back and flourish again.

Last Saturday we entered Phase 3 of the lockdown meaning that pubs, restaurants and hair salons are now able to re-open, and I’ve no doubt that many of you are excited at the prospect of drinking at your local or getting your hair cut again! Of course things will look and feel different to what we are used to, as I saw for myself at the weekend when I visited a couple of local cafes, and I would encourage you to please respect the social distancing rules in place. It’s another positive step forward in our efforts to rebuild from Covid-19 and helping local businesses get back on their feet.

As positive as this news is, we must remember that the virus has not gone away, and we all need to remain vigilant. If we use our common sense and cooperate with the rules, then we can continue to slow the spread and defeat Covid-19 together.

Sadly, I am aware that this crisis has led to difficulties in unemployment for some people. Whilst I welcome the measures that have been put in place to save as many jobs and businesses as possible, I know that has not been possible for all. I’ve been in touch with local Jobcentres over the past few weeks, and I’ve also been posting the latest job vacancies on my Facebook page from local businesses. Please do follow my page at facebook.com/JamesMorrisHRR for regular local updates.

As ever, if there is anything I can do to support you, your business or your organisation as we continue our recovery, please don’t hesitate to email me at james.morris.mp@parliament.uk

This column first appeared in the Halesowen News on 9th July 2020