'IT has now been 18 weeks since we entered lockdown. Few of us could have predicted the scale of the disruption to our way of life. At the beginning of lockdown, we were told that life should not feel normal. Now, we are adjusting to a new normal.

The most significant changes to lockdown measures to date were announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament earlier this month.

The move to phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s Route Map out of lockdown meant that non-essential retailers were able to re-open. It feels like a lifetime ago now, but in December I visited Chandlers Attic, in Kinglassie, and met with owner Catherine Fotheringham to celebrate Small Business Saturday. Our local small businesses need our support now more than ever before.

When you do go to the shops, it is now mandatory to wear a face covering. On my first visit to the shops since the measure was announced, I was impressed by the near 100% compliance.

By wearing a face covering you are helping to protect others by reducing the risk of transmission indoors. Face coverings do not make you invincible, though, which is why following physical distancing and other guidelines remains vitally important. We have made real progress to suppress the virus, but it still poses a threat. This is the new normal.

One change that was welcomed unanimously was the re-opening of hairdressers and barbers. I know I won’t have been alone in looking forward to my first appointment since the start of lockdown. (My cocker spaniel, Brodie, was able to get in ahead of me for a trim a fortnight ago!)

Holiday accommodation has also re-opened for those lucky enough to take a staycation. The Scottish Parliament is not taking its usual approach to summer recess this year. Instead, there are several virtual and hybrid sessions, which MSPs can attend in person or remotely, for the Scottish Government to update us on its response to Covid-19. I’ll be in Parliament next Thursday when the First Minister announces the next review of lockdown measures.

Traditionally, I spend summer recess holding advice surgeries in communities around my Mid Fife and Glenrothes constituency, as well as meeting with local businesses and organisations to support and promote their work.

This summer will be slightly different. I am continuing hold regular telephone advice surgeries for constituents on Mondays and Fridays from 11.00 am and most meetings will still be held virtually rather than in person. Please email me at Jenny.Gilruth.msp@parliament.scot or call my constituency office on 01592 764815 to make an appointment.

In previous months, I have talked about the many impacts of Covid-19 on our people, communities and businesses. I have been helping constituents to deal with these impacts every day since the start of lockdown. My office has seen a huge year on year increase in casework – up 734% in March and around three times more contacts each month since. It is a trend I expect will continue for as long as the virus challenges our way of life. If Covid-19 is affecting you, please remember you are not alone, and you can get in touch for help'.