The Government is taking decisive action against coronavirus; leaving no uncertainty that our exit out of this pandemic depends on reducing the virus right now.

As of Tuesday, Britain had administered more vaccinations than European countries combined; with 2.8 million doses given to 2.4 million people.

Care homes and their staff are the first priority; and I contacted care homes across West Dorset last week to offer my support if needed. I am also pressing for domiciliary carers, who care for people living in their own homes, to be prioritised for vaccination too.

We should not lower our guard prematurely; because our real battle is for today, as we tackle a strain of the virus which is much more transmissible than before. I am concerned that if we do not respect the current rules, staying at home unless for a limited number of exemptions, that we face even tighter restrictions.

National statistics, especially in cities, are increasingly concerning; although we still have comparatively lower numbers of cases here in West Dorset. Our main hospitals in Dorchester and Yeovil are under more pressure than before and it’s important we do everything we can to maintain this margin of difference and to drive down the rate of infection locally. I am assured by the Health Secretary that support bubbles, including for childcare, are ‘here to stay’ as we work towards recovery.

I met with the Education Secretary last week to ensure the situation for our West Dorset schools is understood; and to make the case for teaching staff to be a vaccination priority, especially those working in special needs. An assessment process is planned, using teacher-assessed grades for students whose exams have been cancelled. There is discretion for those who have worked hard towards BTEC and vocational exams in January; they may continue with assessments where appropriate, helping those who need practical qualifications to further work or training opportunities.

Chris Loder West Dorset MP