Although we have had to wait until the very end of the month for the weather to improve, I am very happy with the progress of the Government’s road map and the further opening up of businesses. As a Minister in the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, I am especially pleasing to see the return of the cultural sector and I have already taken the opportunity to enjoy some live music.

Whilst there is sadly no guarantee about whether the next step of the road map goes ahead at this stage, I hope that the enthusiastic take up of the vaccine continues and we remain aware of the need to maintain social distancing so that normal life can return as soon as possible.
It is also hugely encouraging to see that the our area continues to have low Covid case rates with both Maldon and Chelmsford reporting no new cases on some days in mid-May. In the week ending 20th May, Maldon District had a case rate of 3.1 per 100,000 people, while Chelmsford had a rate of 6.2 for the same period. 

The vaccine roll out continues at a blistering pace with those aged over 30 now being invited to book their first vaccine appointment. In the Mid Essex CCG area, as of 20 May, a total of 354,293 doses have been given so far. Incredibly, nearly 80% of those aged between 40 and 44 have so far received their first dose, and 100% of 75 to 80 year olds and 94.2% of over 80 year olds living in the area have now received both jabs and are fully vaccinated. I also welcome the findings of a recent study carried out by Public Health England that found both the the Pfizer and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines are highly effective against the variant identified in India after two doses. News that further underlines the importance of booking your vaccine appointment as soon as you are invited to do so.