Monday, 24 January 2022

Further easing of travel restrictions

Today, as I mentioned on my previous blog, the government has announced a further relaxation for fully vaccinated passengers returning to the UK. 

The government are removing ALL testing measures for eligible fully vaccinated arrivals to England from 4am on 11 February.
These changes have been made possible by the success of our vaccine and booster rollout.

Arrivals in England who aren't fully vaccinated will only need to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on or before day 2 after arriving in England.
All passengers will still need to complete a Passenger Locator Form. 

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Easing of Plan B restrictions

England's Plan B measures are to end from next Thursday, with mandatory face coverings in public places and Covid passports both dropped, the government has announced.

The government will also immediately be dropping its advice for people to work from home.

The news announcement comes as scientists believe the Omicron wave has peaked nationally.

This is not the finish line as the virus and future variants cannot be eradicated - instead we need to learn to live with the virus.

Ventilation of enclosed spaces, washing hands and self-isolating if positive are all things we can do to reduce the risk. If you haven't been vaccinated, please do so, and get your booster if you have already had your first two jabs. 

In summary, the following changes to restrictions will be made:

  • Mandatory Covid passports for entering nightclubs and large events will end, though organisations can choose to use the NHS Covid pass if they wish
  • People will no longer be advised to work from home and should discuss their return to offices with employers
  • Face masks will no longer be mandated, though people are still advised to wear coverings in enclosed or crowded spaces and when meeting strangers. 
  • From today, secondary school pupils will no longer have to wear face masks in classrooms and government guidance on their use in communal areas will be removed next Thursday (27th January).

Further announcements on the easing of travel rules and restrictions on care home visits in England are expected in the coming days. 

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Northumberland one of the most exciting places in the world!

Northumberland has been named by the New York Times as one of the most exciting places to visit in the world!

The New York Times produces an annual list of the most exiting places to visit in the world and Northumberland came fifth. 

2022 will be a very exciting year for tourism in Northumberland with the Hadrian's Wall 1900 Festival. The New York Times also mentioned the North East stretch of England's 2,800 mile coastal path, Northumberland's wild beaches and the International Dark Sky Park in their article.

BBC Politics North

I recently appeared on BBC Politics North. 

You can watch the programme on iPlayer by clicking HERE.

Monday, 17 January 2022

Storm Arwen Public Meetings in Ponteland and Bellingham

I want to thank everyone for coming to the Storm Arwen Public Meetings in Ponteland and Bellingham. 

The meetings were attended by Northern Powergrid, Northumbrian Water, Northumberland County Council, Forestry England (Bellingham) and the NFU (Bellingham).

Both meetings were well attended by local residents, which ensured that plenty of questions were asked of all the stakeholders. 

I will be writing a report based on the information gathered from these meetings and correspondence received from constituents during the crisis that followed Storm Arwen in late November. This will be sent to Ofgem for their consideration as part of their Review which reports in the Spring.

I am aware there were technical problems with the Ponteland live stream. If you weren't able to watch either meeting,  you can watch them now on my YouTube channel in your own time by clicking HERE.

I am holding two further meetings: 

27th January 18:00 – 20:00, Hexham Mart

28th January 19:00 – 21:00, Allendale Town Hall

If you would like to attend either of these meetings, please sign up by clicking HERE

Hexham Mart Farming Surgery with the NFU

On Friday, I held a Farming Surgery at Hexham Mart with the NFU to hear the views of farmers on payment schemes, Environmental Land Management Schemes and various other issues. 

It was good to have a catch up with the NFU, visit the Mart, and listen to farmers and the team at the Mart on a whole host of issues. 

Credit: Robert Smith

Booster Jabs for 16 and 17 year olds

From today, (Monday) 16 and 17-year-olds will start receiving invitations to come forward for their booster jabs if they received their second jab more than three months ago. 

Please come forward to get vaccinated if you are eligible. It is not too late to come forward for your first jab too.

Getting vaccinated is the best thing we can do to protect ourselves, our family and friends. 

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Self-isolation for COVID-19 cases reduced from 10 to 7 days following negative LFD tests

People who receive negative Lateral Flow Test results on day 6 and day 7 of their self-isolation period – with tests taken 24 hours apart – will no longer have to self-isolate for the full 10 days. The first test must be taken no earlier than day 6 of the self-isolation period.

Those who leave self-isolation on or after day 7 are strongly advised to limit close contact with other people in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, work from home and minimise contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with COVID- 19.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Visit to Kielder Forest following Storm Arwen damage

I recently met the team repairing the huge damage caused to Kielder Forest by Storm Arwen. 

The team from Forestry England are doing amazing work replanting and opening the forest safely.

It was great to learn about their plans to replant and open the bike and horse trails safely. 

Storm Arwen meeting at Darras Hall Primary School - Thursday 13th January 2022

It's not too late to sign up for the public meeting that I'm holding on to the response to Storm Arwen. 

Representatives from Northern PowerGrid, Northumbrian Water and Northumberland County Council will be there to explain their role in the response to Storm Arwen and answer any questions. 

You can sign up for the meeting at Storm Arwen Public Meetings | Guy Opperman

Your safety is paramount and while the spread of COVID-19 remains a threat, we are taking a number of necessary precautions.

I would remind all attendees that the wearing of a face mask will be compulsory at all times inside the venue unless you are exempt.

In addition to this, social distancing will be encouraged and observed, where possible.

Masks, hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes will be readily available at the venue.

To ensure we all play our part in the fight against the virus, I would be grateful if all attendees took a Lateral Flow Test at least 48 hours prior to the meeting.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Get your booster jab!

Today, I received my fourth COVID jab. 

I am immunocompromised because of a horse riding accident many years ago where I lost my spleen.

If you are asked to come forward, please get the jab. There are appointments aplenty for boosting and first timers.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information - NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (

Thursday, 6 January 2022

Welcome changes to travel testing rules

I really welcome the decision taken by the government to relax many restrictions on testing when travellers return from abroad. It will reduce the burden of travel costs to families and businesses. 

The new rules are as follows: 

People who aren't fully vaccinated must currently take PCR tests on both day two and day eight after arriving, and self-isolate for 10 days.

But under the new rules:

  • From 04:00 GMT on Friday (07/01/2022): people who are fully vaccinated and those aged under-18 will no longer need to take a test two days before travelling to England from countries outside the UK and the Common Travel Area. On arrival, they will have to take a PCR test but they will no longer have to self-isolate while awaiting the result
  • From 04:00 GMT on Sunday (10/01/2022): they will only have to take a lateral flow test instead of a PCR test on day two. But this test must be bought from a private test provider - free NHS tests are not allowed
  • Unvaccinated passengers will need to continue to take a pre-departure test, PCR tests on day two and day eight, and self-isolate for 10 days


Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Storm Arwen public meetings

I hope you have had a merry Christmas and wishing you a happy New Year.

It has been a difficult time for our local communities, with long power outages caused by huge damage to electricity lines and water supplies in the aftermath of Storm Arwen last year.

I want to say a big thank you to so many: the engineers reconnecting power in very tough weather, local businesses, generator providers, and also the local community who have helped out their neighbours.

Clearly, lots of lessons need to be learnt from this crisis. I welcome the launch of Ofgem’s investigation into what went wrong. Communications and managing expectations from Northern Powergrid were appalling throughout the power outages and I will continue to push for significant improvements to be made.

As you may be aware, I will be holding a series of public meetings on the response to Storm Arwen across the constituency in village halls in January. The meetings will ensure local people have their voices heard by representatives of the companies in question and that there are proper community representations in the Ofgem investigation.

The public meetings will be held at the following locations:

  • 13th January 18:00 – 20:00, Darras Hall Primary School
  • 14th January 18:00 – 20:00, Bellingham Village Hall
  • 27th January 18:00 – 20:00, Hexham Mart
  • 28th January 19:00 – 21:00, Allendale Village Hall

If you would like to attend one of these meetings, please do signup by visiting:, calling 01434 239 205 or email:

Again, I am very proud of how our community has rallied through this very difficult time. Please do contact my office if there’s anything I can help with.  

Saturday, 1 January 2022

New Year message

It has been a difficult year for communities across Northumberland, from the ongoing pandemic to the devastating effects of Storm Arwen. Huge thanks go to all the amazing emergency services and our brilliant local NHS, who have continued to serve people in Northumberland with the utmost professionalism and service.

The COVID vaccination rollout earlier in the year, and the recent booster rollout has been hugely successful. The UK leads the world with its booster rollout, with some 185,000 booster jabs being rolled out across Northumberland so far. Our local NHS has been amazing at rolling out the vaccine at such speed, whilst also persuading those who were previously unsure to get the jab, to get jabbed.

My single most important message would be to get vaccinated. COVID has taken such a toll on our communities in so many ways, but the vaccine is our single most effective defence against the Omicron variant. It is the best way to protect our friends, family, and vulnerable members of the community.

I hope you have had a very merry Christmas and wishing everyone across Northumberland a very happy and prosperous new year.