THIS week, Aylesbury MP Rob Butler writes exclusively to Bucks Free Press readers:

Parliament is on recess this week, providing the opportunity to spend more time in the constituency, meeting local people at socially distanced engagements to hear their concerns and help where I can. Unsurprisingly, the main topic of concern remains the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since I wrote my last Letter from Westminster, the second wave of the virus has unfortunately gathered both pace and force across the country.

In Buckinghamshire, we remain at a crucial juncture despite the diligence of the overwhelming majority of local residents in following the government’s guidance.

If we can’t stem the rise in local cases, we face the prospect of Buckinghamshire moving into a High Covid alert level or ‘Tier 2’. This would bring about further restrictions on our day-to-day lives, and is something I am keen to avoid if at all possible.

Whilst public health will always rightly be a priority, we must also consider the ramifications for our local economy of moving into a higher tier. Many of Aylesbury’s firms had to shut down entirely during the lockdown period earlier this year, and sadly jobs have been lost forever.

I do not want to risk this again, and I am very proud of the way our businesses have adapted to the circumstances, with huge financial support from the government. If a business can operate safely and within the rules that have been laid out, then I believe we must continue to give it the opportunity to trade. Our pubs, restaurants and cafes are particularly vulnerable, and these have knock-on effects for other entire sectors, such as those in weddings and events.

It’s also very important to ensure that people with health conditions other than Covid can continue to access the care they need, and that we pay attention to mental health needs that could well arise from further restrictions.

These are points I am raising consistently with ministers, including at Prime Minister’s Questions. There is a delicate balance between public health, the impact for the local economy and our everyday freedoms, which we must safeguard through proper scrutiny and deliberation both in Buckinghamshire and at Westminster.

We can all play our own part, by sticking to the up-to-date guidance, especially the mantra of hands – face – space. This is a critical time for Buckinghamshire. The more we follow the rules and practices that can suppress the virus, the sooner we will be able to return to life as normal.