I KNOW a lot of people are disappointed and concerned by the imposition of additional restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus. But many more are relieved that rumours of a return to full lockdown conditions have proved to be ill-founded.

In response to rising case numbers, we are extending the requirement to wear masks in some settings, enforcing early closing at hospitality venues, asking people to work from home where possible and curtailing some of the exemptions enjoyed by indoor sports.

This is not where we wanted to be but, as the PM said, a stitch in time saves nine.

We have already seen cases rise in several European countries – first in the young and then in other age groups. Rising hospital admissions and deaths followed, and restrictions had to be re-imposed. Therefore, we must recognise where the trajectory we are on may lead and act now to stop it.

In other words, these relatively small impositions made early will prevent a return to lockdown and allow businesses to stay open, children to go to school and people to carry on getting out and about. On Monday, I was pleased to hear the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser specifically mention the delicate balance that must be struck between keeping our economy going and keeping the virus under control.

The government is extremely mindful that lockdown has negative health implications too and is determined to do everything possible to avoid it. As we enter the winter months, when respiratory illnesses tend to surge, by keeping our distance now, we are not just protecting the NHS, as we did so successfully in the spring, but also sheltering our economy from stricter and more costly measures further down the line.

I expect to be busy in the Treasury working on what we can do to support those sectors most affected by the latest developments.

I have a full diary of commitments in the constituency on Friday and will be donning my mask and honouring them in a COVID secure fashion. While we will observe the instruction to work from home where possible, my office will carry on functioning – as it did throughout lockdown - and I will continue to be available to talk to constituents, whether online, over the telephone or in socially distanced conversations.