Wednesday 14 April 2021
On Friday 9th of April we learnt the sad news of the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His life had been one of dedicated service to this country, as consort to Her Majesty The Queen for sixty-nine years, a decorated Royal Naval officer serving during the Second World War and afterwards, and as the driving force behind many major charities and good causes. The Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme will be one of his permanent legacies, that has touched the lives of millions of people. The scheme equips and empowers hundreds of thousands of young people every year from all communities, to build the skills, confidence, and resilience they need to make the most out of life. For many of us, his central role in our national life had been a constant presence, and in his passing he will be greatly missed. The sorrow of the Royal Family for the loss of a much loved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather will be shared around the world as we mark the end of his remarkable life.
Over the last few weeks I have reported back in this column on the rate of reported new cases of COVID-19 in the Folkestone and Hythe district. We have seen a constant and steady fall in the infection rate over the last three months, and it is now at a seven day average of 0.3 new cases per day. This is now at its lowest level since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, and our district currently has the lowest infection rate in the whole country. This is excellent progress and testimony to the importance of the roll out of the COVID vaccine, and the steps we have all taken to limit the spread of the virus. Over forty million people have received their first dose of the vaccine and close to eight million people in the most vulnerable categories have received both jabs. The NHS has now announced that anyone over the age of 45 can book their first dose online here.
This week has also seen another important step in the re-opening of society with a further easing of the Covid-19 social contact restrictions. Shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor pubs have now reopened, which is a great relief for those businesses and everyone who enjoys using them. The next significant date will be 17th May when indoor hospitality venues, including cinemas are allowed to re-open and most of the restrictions on smaller groups meeting outdoors will be lifted. There will also then be trials for the safe return of larger groups in bigger venues. We remain on track for meeting the government’s target of lifting all COVID relating social contact restrictions by 21st June.