This has been an important week for our local businesses. After months when they’ve been unable to open, more shops, hairdressers and gyms can now welcome back customers, and bars and restaurants can offer outdoor service.
I’m sure many businesses are feeling a sense of relief, but the disruption of the past year and uncertainty about the future mean it remains a worrying time for them. And some industry sectors, such as travel, still can’t operate, and are under particular pressure. For individuals, too, there is uncertainty. Many of us are really pleased that more businesses are reopening (personally, I can’t wait to get into Urmston to have my hair cut, and it’s great to be able to get back to swimming – a big shoutout to Trafford Leisure!). But we need to keep on behaving cautiously. I hope you’ll support our amazing local businesses as they start to reopen, but please do make sure you do so safely.
I had a very powerful reminder that covid is a deadly disease when I visited the Covid Memorial Wall in London this week. People have left pink hearts stuck to the wall with messages remembering loved ones they have lost to covid. The wall stretches way down the bank of the Thames, and it really brings home the scale of the loss we have suffered. It was incredibly moving to visit it.
I’ve been back in Westminster this week, where we marked the Sikh celebration of Vaisakhi on Wednesday. Usually, a reception takes place in the Speaker’s House, and I have been thrilled to welcome some of my Sikh constituents to previous events. But of course, this year, we have had to hold it on zoom. It’s the same situation as we enter Ramadan – the Labour Muslim group are holding their Iftar online. I feel very sad that we’re not able to be together on these important occasions; zoom is good but it’s not the same. I very much hope next year we’ll be able to meet and celebrate in person together.
Finally, there were some very eloquent parliamentary tributes to Prince Philip this week. Many MPs had personal stories to tell or had participated in the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme. I know that constituents join me in offering our condolences to the Queen and Royal family. This has been a year when so many families have experienced bereavement, and my thoughts are with everyone who has lost a friend or family member.
PS: Just a reminder of the elections on 6 May for Trafford Council and to re-elect Andy Burnham as mayor of Greater Manchester. You have just 3 days left to register to vote if you haven’t already done so. Go to: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote before 19 April to make sure you have your say!