Good news this week for a number of business set to reopen and their customers too. I know some such as beauty salons have been disappointed not to have been given the green light sooner and there is still progress to be made with activities such as children’s soft play, where social distancing is so hard to control. The current plan though is that indoor swimming pools and gyms will be allowed to open from the 25th July assuming numbers of coronavirus cases continue to fall. Whilst it has been great to see so many exercising outdoors I know that for lots of people this will be a huge step into getting back to normal and also a boost for the holiday industry.
One thing that has been more apparent than ever is that it is entirely possible for two equally sensible and well-intentioned people to have completely opposite views on an issue depending on their own circumstances. The compulsory wearing of masks or face coverings on public transport and shops is such a case. My own initial reaction was that it is not a step on the road to normality and will discourage people from going out. However, I also know that some people who have been shielding and are in vulnerable health categories feel that it is what they need to allow them something as simple as to go to the local cornershop, perhaps for the first time since this started.
The scientific evidence that masks do have an effect on reducing transmission of the virus is growing but these new rules needs to be kept under very close review to make sure that it is making a difference and is a temporary measure in place only for as long as that is the case. At this time of increased anxiety it is especially important that we are kind to each other – people may have very good reasons for feeling the way they do even if you do not share that view.
Earlier in the week I joined an interesting meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Rural Businesses which focussed on how changes to planning laws can help with productivity in places such as Somerset. Sensible reform to change of use rules could drive efficiency but I would not like to see any further presumption in favour of developers and we need a proper review of the Local Plan set up which isn’t working here.
Many of us at the meeting mentioned broadband as a key way of helping rural businesses. Connecting Devon and Somerset are currently running a tender process to take on a new company to reach the last few percent of properties in the region and I hope this will reinvigorate the process.
I am finishing the week with trips to the Army Air Corps at Yeovilton and also Yeovil District Hospital and I know there will be no shortage of inspirational people at either. As always, if you would like to get in touch about any of the above or if I can be of any help please do email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01935314321.