Some years fly by. 2020 most certainly did not. It was an extremely difficult year for all of us and one that most of us will be very glad to see the back of.
Obviously things won’t magically be better just because it’s no longer 2020. In fact, we are now facing a strict national lockdown as COVID cases surge across the country, thanks largely to a new strain of the virus. This is going to be a very difficult time, particularly for us here in Greater Manchester where we’ve been under stricter restrictions since July. We’ve been moved up tiers and in and out of lockdown, every few weeks but restrictions have never really loosened for us.
But this lockdown is different from previous ones in two key respects. Firstly, this new variant of COVID spreads more quickly and easily than the original strain. This makes it even more important to take precautions to avoid spreading it. As difficult as it will be, we have to go back to staying at home to protect our NHS from getting overwhelmed and save lives.
The other – much happier – difference this time around is that we can begin to see light at the end of the tunnel, in the form of the vaccine. It has always been the vaccine that would see this crisis brought to an end and it is finally here and being rolled out. I went with my dad to the Hyde drive-in centre to get his vaccine and it was a very efficient and impressive process – yet more evidence of how fantastic our NHS is. There is also a vaccination centre at Denton Festival Hall and I would encourage anybody eligible in the most vulnerable groups to make sure they get an appointment.
It is essential that the Government uses the (at least) 7 weeks of lockdown to get the vaccination programme firing on all cylinders. We can’t afford another fiasco like the one we saw on Test and Trace or PPE. The more efficient the roll-out is, the more people get vaccinated, the quicker we can finally get back to something like normality.
So I’d like to finish off by saying Happy New Year! 2021 will be difficult, but if we all pull together and look out for each other for the next few months, I hope that it will be a much happier and healthier year than the one we’ve just left behind.