I have had a large number of emails about the lifting of restrictions later this month, and about the guidance for the future.
It is worth pointing out that my correspondence, and I expect public opinion locally, is fairly evenly split between those worried that we are lifting restrictions too soon, and those angry we have not lifted them soon enough.
The Government has tried to tread a path between these two positions, on the principle that when we emerge from the restrictions we should do so permanently - the 'cautious but irreversible' progress the PM has talked about so much. And as he put it this week, if not now, when? Although cases are rising once again, if we fail to open up now we will struggle to do so later in the year when the cold weather brings a new surge in cases.
The vaccine has effectively broken - though not eliminated altogether - the link between infections and hospitalisation. This is the key achievement. We need to keep up the rate of vaccination (and I note with concern reports of young people not taking the jab; please get it if you have not yet done so, and encourage young people you know to do so too). If we do this we can have confidence that the change of policy from July 19th will hold.
That change is a vital one, which many think should have been in force from the outset. Rather than government ordering people to take certain precautions, from 19 July we will be free to make our own decisions, with only guidance from government. One example is the use of masks on public transport. This will no longer be compulsory. However, it is advised that people wear masks on 'crowded' buses and trains. This seems sensible to me and I'll follow that advice personally. I'll judge for myself what 'crowded' means. Either way, no police officer will be able to enforce mask wearing, which is a relief.
As well as the end of compulsory masks, the end of bubbles for schools and the end of the quarantine requirement for 'amber list' countries are highly welcome steps. The pandemic is not over, and I fully understand the concerns of those worrying about a new wave, or new variants. But I want life to get back to normal now, and I am enormously relieved that Freedom Day is coming.