Challenges ahead but welcome route map to normality

Elementary school teacher preparing classroom for children's arrival and disinfecting tables during

The Government’s first priority will be getting children back to school, starting from March 8. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

On Monday, the Prime Minister set out the Government’s plan for unlocking and easing restrictions.

As had already been confirmed, the Government’s first priority will be getting children back to school, starting from March 8.

While many children have continued attending during the recent period, along with nurseries remaining open, others have been missing out since their closure in January. A return to school will also support many parents in being able to return to work.

The speed of the vaccination programme, with all adults due to be offered a jab by the end of July, and falling case rates across England, mean we can now look forward to the return of many activities over the coming months, plus the reopening of our Bay as a tourist resort this summer.

There are still a lot of challenges ahead of us and we must follow the emerging data and scientific advice at each stage, but this week’s statement is a welcome route map to normality. 

Business support 

The scale of support being offered to local businesses via grant schemes established by the Government was illustrated last week when it was confirmed Torbay Council had paid out £57m in grants since the pandemic started.

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Grants are available for businesses which have been closed or affected by local or national Covid-19 restrictions. 

Support is also available for rate-paying and non-rate paying businesses as well as smaller businesses which have fixed ongoing costs. 

Given the significant ongoing impact of the pandemic and restrictions on trade for local businesses, the support packages also need to continue, not least an extension to the current business rates holiday for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses.  

Restoring medals 

When an enemy opens fire on our armed forces their bullets don’t care what the sexual orientation of the troops they are targeting is.

It now seems almost impossible to imagine that 22 years ago a person who had seen active service, faced the horrors of war and put their life on the line for this country could have their medals cut from their chest for nothing other than being who they are or engaging in a consenting same-sex relationship. Some even serving a prison sentence. 

Now moves are being made to ensure those who faced this can have their rightfully earned medals restored, with an application process now open to do so.

Some affected by this have sadly passed away, but their families will be able to apply for honours which should never have been removed to be restored.  

This move is very welcome as these heroes deserve to be recognised for their service to this country, even if the pain of what happened in the past cannot be completely taken away. 

Surgery times 

Due to the current restrictions I have had to cancel my regular face-to-face advice surgeries. 

I hope to restart them as soon as possible, but in the meantime a telephone call appointment can be arranged.

Please note these telephone surgeries are for urgent personal matters, such as welfare, immigration, housing, problems accessing support and benefits, rather than to discuss policy or the wider situation.  

You can either email me at kevin@kevinjfoster.com or leave a message on 01803 214989 and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.