AS I write this, Prince Philip remains in hospital in London receiving treatment for an infection. I firstly would like to let you know that I wrote to Buckingham Palace on Tuesday night and asked for our best wishes to be sent to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

It was just over a year ago that the Chief Medical Officer asked me to attend a briefing with him in Parliament about a new coronavirus. The following week I met him in Downing Street and a month later we were in a lockdown. Eleven months after that day, on Monday, the Prime Minister has set out a roadmap to finally get out of these national restrictions.

The plan is cautious. If I'm honest, a bit too cautious for my personal preference and I was hopeful that the hard work to get us into Tier 1 at the end of 2020 would release us more quickly, but with the South African variant continuing to be a concern, the Government doesn’t believe that the risk can be taken. The plan gives us the brightest light at the end of the tunnel we have had for the last year, especially in rural Dorset, where our case rate is now 82.7 per 100,000.

Here in Dorset, 15% of us work in the tourism sector. It has been a tough year, but we can now look forward to 12th April when the Prime Minister’s roadmap will bring renewal to the hundreds of pubs, restaurants, cafés, hotels and tourist attractions across West Dorset with the resumption of outdoor service, setting the path to sunnier skies and greener pastures with the safe re-opening of Bridport’s tourism industry. In normal times, 685,000 overnight trips are made to West Dorset each year, along with 5 million day trips!

Chris Loder

MP for West Dorset