IT is undoubtedly welcome news to many of my constituents, and indeed the country, that the long period of social isolation is gradually being rolled back and we can meet and greet friends and family again after having to communicate via technology for so long.

Whilst more businesses are able to open their doors again from July 4, I must acknowledge the sacrifices made by everyone over the last few months and whilst the crisis is by no means over, the end is now in sight.

Despite the gradual relaxation of lockdown measures, we all need to make sure that we continue to follow the updated guidelines to avoid a second spike to protect our NHS and care staff who have continued their unflinching and tireless work to care for those affected through the most difficult of circumstances in recent history.

Many businesses that have been allowed to reopen, such as hairdressers, pubs, restaurants, and cinemas, are now having to rise to many new challenges, altering the way they work in order to keep in accordance with government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene.

Although their reopening is fantastic news, I have also been contacted by many constituents who are still unable to reopen their businesses, such as pools, gyms, tattooists, nail bars and tanning salons to name but a few.

I am aware of all the measures they have put in place, ready to go, to be able to safely reopen and will be raising these points with the government to ensure these specific sectors can get back to business as soon as it is possible.

It is important that local businesses are able to safely get going again so that they can start to financially recover.

It is important that we support local shops and businesses as they return to work, providing the goods and services that have, in many cases, been unavailable to us during lockdown.

I urge everyone to support these local businesses as they reopen.

Please shop locally if possible. If shopping online, please try to use the online services of a local trader, if possible. When local pubs and restaurants are able to reopen, please consider visiting them, even if you don’t normally do so. They will need your help to recover, and we will need a strong sense of community spirit more than ever to recover from this crisis. Luckily, the proud communities that make up the Leigh constituency have community spirit in abundance.

As we return to some degree of normality, I also want to assure you that my team and I are still on hand to assist you with your queries and concerns, whether those be about coronavirus, local issues such as bins and potholes, or national policy issues.

Since the start of lockdown, my team and I have responded to over 4,000 casework emails on the behalf of the constituents of Leigh and will continue to do all we can to support you all through this difficult period.

We have started on the road to recovery as a town, and while there is still a long way to go before things return fully to normal, it is fair to say that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel as far as the end of lockdown is concerned.