It has now been two months since restrictions were first introduced in this country, writes Witney Conservative MP Robert Courts, the like of which we have never seen before and which have transformed all our daily lives. I know that this is a long time for people to endure limits on their freedom, be that to operate their businesses or to visit friends and family.

I therefore want to thank each and every reader who has diligently obeyed the public health guidance from the start. It is thanks to your dedication and sacrifice that this country has prevented the catastrophe that would have ensued had the NHS become overwhelmed. And it is thanks to your dedication and sacrifice that we have slowed the spread of this virus such that we can now begin to look forward and begin to plan for the gradual re-opening of society.

The Government has now sketched out a road map for carefully lifting the restrictions in a phased, managed approach. The plan is conditional on sustained falls in the death rate and considerable falls in the rate of infection. Our scientific experts will be monitoring the data closely at every step and restrictions will only be lifted once the evidence shows that it is safe to do so.

Following the Prime Minister’s original announcement of the plan, there was a great deal of noise in sections of the media about an alleged lack of clarity in the statement. Commentators appeared to be competing to be the most dumbfounded by what were, clearly, very minor adjustments to the public health guidance.

There were even accusations that the change of message from ‘Stay at Home’ to ‘Stay Alert’ would lead to widespread confusion amongst the public, though I notice this particular line of attack was swiftly dropped once the French government announced the introduction of a practically identical new slogan.

I was reassured to learn that the confusion felt in sections of the media was not replicated amongst the people of West Oxfordshire. People understand that there is only so much Government can do: Ministers and civil servants cannot produce a specific guidebook for every possible scenario we might face in the course of our individual daily lives. Thus we all need to look at the detailed guidance the Government has published, apply some pragmatism, and work out what is best for us and our families.

Local people I speak to understand that. They recognise that the next phase of our battle against Coronavirus cannot work without personal responsibility and common sense. And I have every faith that good common sense will prevail, as indeed it has to date.

Finally, I hope that constituents have watched at least some of the proceedings in our new ‘virtual’ Parliament. It has certainly been interesting to be part of this unique chapter in the 700-year history of our House of Commons. As a strictly temporary, short-term measure, it has done the job.

But it is certainly no long-term, ‘modern’ alternative. Parliament derives from the French word “Parler”: to speak. The place is all about debate and conversation - both inside the Chamber of the House of Commons but often more importantly outside of it, in Parliament’s many meeting rooms and corridors. A virtual Parliament, with MPs hundreds of miles apart, eliminates this. The sooner we can safely return to a fully-functioning Parliament the better, I say.

As ever, if there is anything I can do to help please do not hesitate to contact me at