While the battle against the global coronavirus pandemic is far from over - it does appear that the tide has turned.

There are several vaccine contenders in late stages of development, and the rate of the spread of infection appears to have slowed down dramatically - especially when compared to the very worst of the pandemic, when deaths were recorded on a daily basis by the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT).

In light of this, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has eased many of the more stringent lockdown restrictions and returned much of our pre-lockdown freedoms.

The ability to shop, to exercise, to get a hair cut, to go out for a meal or a drink - these are all hard won freedoms that must not provoke complacency about the virus threat.

Remember, there is still no cure, and there is not yet a viable vaccine.

That said, communities are now able to turn an eye towards a secondary problem caused by the coronavirus - the damage done to our local economy.

South Cumbria is the ‘furlough capital’ of the UK, with 40 per cent of its workers having used the Government’s Job Retention Scheme since the beginning of the pandemic.

The figures are unsurprising given the county's reliance on the tourism industry, which has largely been closed since March and is still not running at pre-lockdown capacity.

It would be a huge shame if any of Cumbria's tourism businesses, many of which are fantastic ambassadors for the culture and heritage of the Lake District, were to go under as a result of the global pandemic.

The coronavirus job retention scheme has been an unprecedented state intervention, and one that has been welcomed by business owners and employees alike.

But if the Government now allows businesses to collapse - the spending of taxpayer money will have been for nothing.

The Government must protect our tourism sector.