After such positive news about vaccines being cleared for use and rolled out it is disappointing that so many of us now cannot have even the restricted Christmas celebrations we had planned.
Faced with data about a new strain of the COVID virus though I don’t think the Government had any option but to toughen the restrictions especially on travel within the country and abroad. Since the initial lockdown I have opposed blanket restrictions and pressed for rules to be local, based on accurate and up-to-date information and properly reviewed as frequently as possible and I will continue to do so. However, with figures suggesting that the new strain transmits more readily swift action must be taken to minimise the spread.
Almost every family will have a personal reason why Christmas is important to them. From trying to explain to the youngest why things have to be a bit different this year to worrying about older relatives, this will present challenges. We can rise to them though, I have no doubt.
So here is the more positive news. There is no evidence to suggest that the new strain of the virus is more deadly than previous forms. We are leading the world in rolling out vaccines with over half a million people having received a dose by the end of Tuesday. The NHS website has a good explanation of how vaccines are being administered but essentially people will be contacted when they are eligible starting with health and care workers and the most vulnerable along age and medical grounds. Yeovil District Hospital was in the first tranche of centres set up and the Henhayes Community Centre in Crewkerne will soon be a GP led community site.
Here in Somerset we have remained in Tier 2. This is still very hard on some businesses such as in the hospitality industry but shops are open, restaurants are open for single household outings and we can meet people from other households outside in groups of no more than 6. I would encourage everyone to look at what is still possible in terms of support and childcare bubbles as well as for Christmas Day itself, but as part of observing the rules at this crucial time when there are significant COVID infection pressures in places like Yeovil and Wincanton.
That we are still in Tier 2 is largely thanks to the great efforts of everyone to stay safe within the guidelines. In my recent trips around our towns and villages I have been incredibly impressed with the efforts local people are going to in order to run their businesses in a safe way. If you can please do support them, shop locally, maybe treat yourselves to some really good food to takeaway; there are lots of ways that we can all show our appreciation and help Somerset’s economy and jobs.
Albeit working from home, my Yeovil office is open throughout the Christmas period so please do get in touch if I can help. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01935 314321. As much as possible have a good Christmas and let’s look forward to better times.