EASTBOURNE MP Caroline Ansell says she understands why our pubs and hotels are frustrated they can’t open sooner.

She said: “The debate about the road map out of lockdown announced by the Prime Minister continues.

I have asked local people and most are happy with the caution and clarity the statement gave. There are dates to work too and clear tests to be met before we get back to normality on 21st June.

Of course, there is also frustration about how long it will take to open some parts of the hospitality industry here in Eastbourne, in particular pubs and restaurants, and I understand this completely.

The government has said the support already in place will continue and this is really important.

But the key is that this coming out of tough restrictions must be irreversible. We cannot go into another lockdown. That will be far more ruinous than waiting a few more weeks for normality via low infection rates. Ruinous for businesses forced to close again and ruinous for everyone who is struggling with their mental health problems, loneliness and their education.

The vaccine rollout gives us the great hope for the normality we all crave but there are still plenty of people who can become infected with the virus as we vaccinate through the age groups. We will have to live with Covid, that’s for sure, but let’s get the infections down before we fully open up. And let’s be sure the vaccines are doing their good work too.

One early bright part of the roadmap is schools will reopen in days not weeks on 8th March. The concerns about children falling behind are rightly widespread and I very much share them. I welcome the government earmarking a further £400 million for summer holiday catch up for pupils.

This week I was delighted to be invited by Eastbourne Parkinson’s group for a virtual catch up and Q&A session.  Although it is not the same – and didn’t involve cake! –  it was an absolute delight to see members assembled on my screen.  The PM’s roadmap now published also meant we were able to speak with some confidence about when we will meet in person which felt very good. 

We spoke of many things, local issues in Eastbourne and more subject specific, I talked through genome testing and the latest changes in NICE guidance.  I also undertook to ask the Secretary of State about progress in research and treatment of Parkinson’s when next called to raise a question on the floor of the House of the Commons. 

In a run of questions from cycling to quarantine, the easiest question put to me was, who was my favourite MP? ‘Rishi’ I said, if we get to keep the VAT cut.”