The Stroud MP's weekly column.

This week saw the first substantive step out of lockdown.

The easing of regulations is part of the government’s road map out of lockdown but it still means much cannot be done. Non-essential shops remain closed, pubs and restaurants remain closed but takeaway food is allowed.

This is happening because the lockdown since January and the amazing vaccination programme have really lowered infection rates. More than 30 million have now received a Covid jab in the UK. Latest ONS data shows 90% of those over 70 have had a jab – the most vulnerable age range - and the vaccines seem to have halted infections in care homes – all good news.

But risks do remain. The government is worried the third wave of infections that Europe is now battling may turn up here. New variants of Covid – rendering our vaccines less effective - is also a concern.

I believe the government remains right to be cautious and to communicate that caution. We should stick to the rules and avoid the temptation to start ignoring the measures that are still in place.

The vaccination programme is a game changer but it doesn’t protect everyone and there are millions left to receive the jab, which means there are still millions who could become seriously ill and even die from Covid. I understand the frustration and I understand everyone wants to get back to normal but we must be patient.

If all goes to plan, April 12 is the next big date. As long as it is safe to do so, all Stroud District shops can reopen, along with hairdressers and beauty salons.

It’s not quite normal yet but it’s starting to get there. Let’s carry on doing our bit until the all clear is given.

My team and I enjoy receiving artwork from young people from around the constituency so please look out for my Posters of Hope competition over Easter.