Here we are, another week closer to a return to our normal way of life – or alternatively, another week of restrictions to our freedom. It depends on how you look at it. It is important to remember that from today groups of two households can meet indoors or outdoors, even staying overnight in each other’s houses, as long as social distancing is maintained. This means that families who have not been able to get together can now do so.
Many businesses are opening again today and I am looking forward to having my hair cut. You will be able to have a meal or a drink or go to a theme park, as long as they are COVID secure – but please remember that the risk of transmission is greater when you are indoors, so take extra care.
It is worrying that lockdown is being re-imposed in Leicester because of an increase in coronavirus cases. It is a stark reminder that we are not out of this crisis and still need to social distance and wear masks when on public transport – and anywhere else where we cannot stay at a safe distance from those around us. These measures are not just for our own safety but for the safety and consideration of other people too.
Do you remember when we went onto our doorsteps every Thursday evening to clap the care workers, doctors, nurses, NHS staff and key workers who put their lives on the line for us, and still do today? On Sunday 5 July we celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the founding of our NHS and now, more than ever, we should be thankful for the greatest health care system in the world. Happy birthday NHS, and thank you for taking care of us.
Just one word of warning. Along with other scams reported in the Worcester News, there is one going around at the moment asking people to renew their TV licences and give bank details. Don’t fall for it and don’t give your bank details to anyone over the phone or over a social network. Stay safe.
I start my blog on a very sad note. My heart goes out to the families and friends of the three people who were murdered last Saturday evening in Reading, and also to the others who were injured in the same incident. We have been through the most frightening and disruptive period that many of us have ever endured, and the need for kindness and thoughtfulness is essential for our mental and physical survival.
On Monday morning the Armed Forces flag was raised above the Guildhall. I was pleased to welcome Captain Bob Lowe from 214 Battery and Dave Waldron, Chairman of the Worcestershire Royal British Legion, who joined me, my Consort and my Chaplain Sarah Northall on the steps of the Guildhall. A small but poignant ceremony was held to honour our brave service men and women who keep us and our way of life safe.
On Tuesday morning I met Tracy Spiers from the magazine Cotswold Life in the Parlour to talk about Worcester shops reopening. Tracy is writing an article to promote Worcester shops’ return to business. I am very pleased to do anything I can to help get Worcester’s economy moving again.
The Unity of Faiths Foundation is running a competition to find the UK’s kindest City. I believe strongly that we should be doing anything we can to make the lives of others easier by spreading a little kindness. Please let me know of any kindness you witness (email email@example.com) if you would like to enter the competition. Worcester people have always been genuinely kind, so let’s broadcast it!
No doubt we are all looking forward to the changes to lockdown which begin on 4 July. With the two-metre rule being reduced to one metre plus and pubs and restaurants cautiously re-opening, we are seeing a gradual but significant return to our old way of life.
I do urge you all to enjoy these freedoms, but also to take great care and where necessary wear face coverings. I have been in town a few times and I have always worn my home-made mask. Look after yourselves and each other. Now more than ever is a time for caution and consideration.
I think we can all agree that the recent stage of shop opening which happened on Monday for many shops in the city was well and truly enjoyed and appreciated by everyone. Judging by the queues which were shown in the Worcester News people were very happy at this point to return towards a more normal way of life. Even though at the moment we have to observe two metre social distancing, it is lovely to be able to actually see what we are buying up close.
Talking of football, which we weren’t, another very welcome development this week has been the success of the campaign by Marcus Rashford, the 22-year-old Manchester United and England footballer. Marcus wrote an open letter to MPs describing his own childhood and asking them to extend the free school meal vouchers to continue throughout the summer holidays. This means that those 1.3 million children who are eligible should now not go hungry during the holidays. A great achievement for such a young player to influence a government decision – it shows that the popularity of football has an amazing ability to instigate change.
It is disappointing that the annual Worcester City Run will not take place this September because of the current situation. I was looking forward to officially starting the Run – but it’s even more of a real shame for all the citizens who look forward to this annual challenge. It is wonderful news that the virtual runs will take place to raise money for the Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust – so good luck to all you virtual runners!
Monday is Armed Forces Day and a flag will be raised on the roof of the Guildhall to remember all those brave men and women who put themselves on the frontline to protect us, our freedoms and our way of life. We remember them and their families especially on this day. It was very sad to hear the news on Thursday of the death of Dame Vera Lynn. She was an inspiration and a source of hope during the dark days of WW2 and she was loved by everyone.
It is so nice to have the opportunity to write to everyone at this time when it is impossible to come out and meet people face to face. Through this column I can wish for your continued health and well being, and keep in touch.
Monday will be a big day for Worcester businesses when the majority of our shops open to the public. Many of you will be looking forward to this as much as I am! While we will all feel a sense of relief towards a return to a normal way of life, I would urge you all to take the greatest of care when going out and remember to maintain social distancing to protect yourselves and other shoppers and shop staff.
The re-opening of shops is the next step to get back to our old way of life, but the coronavirus is still out there and dangerous to us all, so we must not forget the basic rules to keep us safe. Signs will be out in the city centre reminding us and offering advice. Perhaps have your first trip out later in the week, rather than on the first day of opening.
On Saturday a Black Lives Matter rally will be held in Worcester. I wholeheartedly support the message being given by this rally and hope that the day will pass safely and peacefully for all demonstrators and police – with social distancing being observed, so that the very important message being made is not overshadowed.
We have seen in other rallies around the country that protestors can demonstrate without any uncivil behaviour and without endangering each other’s health by breaking coronavirus safety advice, and I am sure that Worcester demonstrators can do the same.
As the easing of lockdown moves on a step further with the joyful news that people in single households can now join a family ‘bubble’ with another household indoors, I am reminded how these little things, that we used to take for granted, mean so much to us. It encourages us to consider what is really important in our lives, and to treasure friends and family.