Remembering those who have died for our country is important for us all but, as with so many events this year, the commemoration services for Remembrance Sunday and Remembrance Day have had to be scaled back.
On Sunday I laid wreaths at the war memorial in St Thomas’s churchyard in Brentwood and at the Ongar War Memorial, together with representatives of each of the Armed Services, the Lord Lieutenant of Essex and the local councils. Despite everything else going on this year - or perhaps because of everything else going on - it is essential to take time to remember the far greater sacrifices previous generations had to make to keep our country safe.
After the short outdoor service at Brentwood, the wreath laying, Father Mark North, the Vicar of St Thomas’s, talked me through what his church has done to make the premises safe. Like many faith leaders, he is anxious that churches are allowed to reopen for worship as soon as possible.
I am pleased Public Health England is currently reviewing evidence around places of worship. I am in no doubt about the strength of feeling from church-goers across the constituency about the importance of being able to take part in religious services and very much want to see public worship reopened as soon as it is safe to do so.
I am also very aware, from the dozens of emails I have received, of the frustration felt by golfers, gym-users, swimmers and tennis players about the closure of courses, gyms, pools and courts for the duration of this second lockdown. I fully appreciate the vital contribution all these forms of sport make to exercise and health, however the basic purpose of these closures is to reduce contact between people in order to curtail the spread of infection. Ministers have taken the view that this could not be achieved by making exceptions, no matter how attractive they might appear.
I know it will feel like all the fun has been taken out of day to day life at the moment - but the darkest hour is before the dawn. We must control the virus to save lives and whilst things may not be completely normal for some time there is cause for hope that swiftly approaching interventions - not least rapid testing - will enable us to regain something closer to normality before too long.