THE challenge that now faces Cumbria and the UK is without precedent.

There is no blueprint for how you balance the need to fight the Covid-19 pandemic - which has already claimed hundreds of lives in Cumbria and more than 43,000 across the UK - with the need to somehow get our economy out of its deep freeze.

Poverty can be every bit as deadly.

In one day alone this week, 6,000 jobs were shed from by High Street retailers across the UK.

Right across Cumbria - a county that relies heavily on tourism and the hospitality trade - workers and business owners are fearful.

Lockdown began more than 100 days ago. Yet we should be aware that families across the country are still getting the worst possible news - that a loved one has fallen victim to this dreadful virus.

Every one of those deaths is a stark reminder that our so-called Independence Day tomorrow - which will bring the reopening of pubs, cinemas, and restaurants - must be a freedom we use responsibly.

Events in Leicester show that the authorities are prepared, if necessary, to return local areas to lockdown.

Nobody wants that.

Yet protecting human life has to come first. That is why we must all take care to be alert, and to be responsible.