The Prime Minister’s Monday announcement that as of today we have entered into a national lockdown in order to bring the spread of the new variant of Covid-19 under control was a tough message but in the circumstances we face, an absolutely necessary one.

Under these restrictions people must stay at home and only leave home where necessary for specific reasons: to shop for basic necessities; to go to work if they cannot reasonably do so from home; to exercise; to meet their support or childcare bubble where necessary; to seek medical assistance; and to attend education or childcare – for those eligible.

Further details on what you can and cannot do are available via:

If you have any questions about the national lockdown, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me via or 01793 533393. My small office team and I will be doing our best to answer any questions you have as quickly as possible, but please be patient as we work through the unprecedented volume of correspondence we are receiving.

Since the pandemic first hit last year, I have been consistently impressed by our efforts here in Swindon to tackle the virus. After many months of hard work, it seemed that our collective efforts were working, and that the virus was under control.

That is why it has felt both frustrating and cruel to see the alarming speed with which the new variant is spreading.

Our scientific advisors have confirmed that the new variant is between 50 and 70 per cent more transmissible. As a result, our hospitals are now under more pressure from Covid patients than at any time since the start of the pandemic.

I am in regular contact with the Director of Public Health at Swindon Borough Council, the chief executive of the GWH, the Health Secretary and others. It is clear that decisive action is needed to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.

As the Prime Minister said, there is one huge difference compared to previous lockdowns: we are now rolling out the biggest vaccination programme in our history. So far in the UK we have vaccinated more people than the rest of Europe combined.

Here in Swindon vaccinations started being administered at the Steam Museum just before Christmas. So far around 2000 patients have already received the Pfizer vaccination and the first doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca version are arriving this week.

Many people are understandably asking about how quickly we can roll out vaccinations. If progress continues as expected, our realistic expectation is that by the middle of February, in England we expect to have offered the first vaccine dose to everyone in the four top priority groups, which are: all care home residents and staff; everyone over the age of 70; all frontline NHS staff and care workers; and everyone on the NHS shielding patient list because they are clinically extremely vulnerable.

If we succeed is doing this, we will have offered some protection to the most vulnerable and enable us to remove many of the restrictions we have all endured for so long.

I fully appreciate how tough this has been for everyone, but now more than ever, we must pull together and follow the rules. Thanks to the miracle of science, not only is the end in sight but we know exactly how we will get there.