The success of the coronavirus vaccine programme is allowing us all to hope that an end to the pandemic is in sight.

Thanks to the fantastic efforts of everyone involved on the vaccination programme, we have grounds for confidence.

Our vaccine rollout is an unprecedented national achievement, and having now offered a vaccine to everyone in the top four priority groups, we are now beginning to vaccinate the next set of vulnerable people.

We all want this lockdown to be the last so progress must be cautious so it is important that everyone continues to follow the rules.

We all want a return to normality and businesses in Wales have been crying out for greater clarity about when they are likely to be allowed to reopen.

Last week, the Conservative government announced that Wales is to receive an extra £650 million in funding to tackle coronavirus.

This significant funding announcement will be welcomed by people, communities and businesses across Wales and comes on top of the furlough scheme and the £5.2 billion already delivered to support industry and public services Wales during the pandemic.

It will ensure the Welsh Government has the flexibility and the resources it needs to protect jobs and livelihoods.

It is clear the effect of the pandemic will be felt by businesses in Wales for a considerable time and they will require continued support in the future.

Non-essential retail, the leisure industry, entertainment and hospitality firms and tourism operators have all suffered severely during lockdown, with a damaging knock-on effect on businesses making up their supply chains.

It is essential that the Welsh Government puts in place a robust recovery plan that delivers fast and effective support.

One measure they can implement is to extend the 100 per cent business rates relief for these sectors of the economy.

From April 1 businesses will liable for business rates payments which were suspended for most of the last year.

This represents a significant cost which businesses have not had to meet while they have been under the strictest restrictions and unable to earn money.

I pressed the Welsh Government to extend the relief in a recent written question and was told by the minister they are assessing the resources available before making a decision.

I hope a swift decision is forthcoming to ensure businesses continue to be supported to ensure we have a strong economic recovery.