Wiltshire Council Leader Cllr Philip Whitehead has promised to support a smooth return as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

In a press statement he said: “Following the Prime Minister’s announcement about the timetable for the lifting of restrictions over the next few months, we will continue to work to support schools, businesses, residents and our staff to ensure restrictions can be lifted safely across Wiltshire.

“Our schools have remained open over the past six weeks for vulnerable children and those of critical workers and we are extremely grateful to those hardworking staff who have provided remote education to pupils at home as well as educating those at school. We will continue to provide our support to all our schools as they prepare to welcome back all children safely on the 8 March 8.

“We will also be doing all we can to support businesses to ensure they can safely start to put in place plans to reopen in the timescales set out by the Prime Minister today.”

But in the meantime, it was vital that residents carried on following Government guidance “as this will help save lives and ensure we can continue to ease social distancing measures and recover from COVID-19.”

The vaccination programme is progressing well and thousands of people in Wiltshire have already received their first dose of the vaccine. Everyone in the first four priority groups have been invited to have a vaccine, and all care homes visited by NHS staff. Across the county, uptake has been incredibly high with the vast majority of people accepting the offer to be vaccinated.

He added: “Preparations are underway to hold COVID secure local council and Police and Crime Commissioner elections on Thursday, May 6. Social distancing measures will ensure people can vote safely but we encourage people to register to vote by post if they can.

“This is a challenging time for everyone and the way Wiltshire has pulled together to look out for each other and protect the most vulnerable is truly remarkable. I would like to thank everyone across the county for their ongoing resilience through these difficult times.”