IT’S welcome news that the Coronavirus alert level has been lowered from 4 to 3.

The virus is still in general circulation, but transmission is no longer high, or rising exponentially which has meant some further gradual relaxing of restrictions is possible.

The Chief Medical Officer, however, is clear that localised outbreaks are likely.

From July 4 you can meet in groups of up to two households (your support bubble counts as one household) in any location, however it remains the case – even inside someone else’s home – that you should socially distance from anyone not in your household or bubble.

Among the additional businesses in England allowed to open from July 4 are pubs, museums, restaurants, campsites, hairdressers and places of worship if they follow ‘Covid-19 Secure’ safety guidelines.

I have understandably been contacted by those that have not yet had the greenlight to open and I am urgently making the case for them.

Please go out and support our local attractions like Hestercombe Gardens and our traders, many of whom have now re-opened and need our support. The recent queues in Taunton demonstrated how pleased many were to visit the shops and I had an enjoyable trip to Wellington, where I was impressed with the attention paid to social distancing and safety measures.

As the PM stated himself: “There is one certainty: the fewer social contacts you have, the safer you will be.”

Do remember to keep up the hand washing, avoid public transport where possible but if you have to use it wear a mask, and get tested immediately if you experience any symptoms of coronavirus and self-isolate if instructed to do so by NHS Test and Trace.

In addition to dealing with coronavirus issues my work as Environment Minister continues apace including bringing forward legislation to ban plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds.

Following the 5p carrier bag charge and microbeads ban we are making real progress in tackling the scourge of plastic waste and this is more important than ever as we work towards a green recovery.

Full guidance and a useful FAQ section around what you can and can’t do from July 4 is available at


MP for Taunton Deane