Westminster Letter



Representing a constituency which has two market towns in its name, Chesham & Amersham, I know that our market towns are one of the foundation stones of our local economy. For centuries, residents have bought goods from traders and it is part of the retail scene and pattern of life. From 1st June, I hope that arrangements to allow residents to shop safely will be in place to allow our traditional outdoor markets to re-open.

The transmission of the virus is lower out of doors and thus by making careful arrangements the markets can operate without risking a second spike of infections. The other retail sector which will be considered for re-opening is the car ‘showroom’ because these are often out of doors. The risk of infection is reduced out of doors but not eliminated.

We have already seen the reopening of garden centres and it was interesting to see how these outlets have taken great care to make sure customers know about how they can shop safely there, with the introduction of one-way systems and the use of social distancing. This protects the staff as well as the customers – and it ultimately affects our NHS too.

Employers everywhere – whether in the carefully-phased reopening of our schools, moves to re-establish the housing market, and in all other workplaces, including independent retail shops, as they reopen – are making preparations to make sure that their premises are Covid-secure for visitors and workers alike. The same will apply to voluntary activities like garden fetes which are often important charity fund-raising events.

Notwithstanding recent controversy let us not forget the lethal danger from this virus and remember the basics for all these activities are to keep washing your hands, maintain safe social distancing, self-isolate if you have symptoms, and to get a test.

[This article was previously published in the Bucks Free Press]