I’m sure many of you will join me in breathing a sigh of relief as we finally say goodbye to 2020.
This year turned out to be an extraordinarily challenging and unusual time and, unfortunately, we’re not quite out of the woods yet. However, the distribution of the vaccine to the elderly and most vulnerable certainly provides light at the end of a long tunnel and I hope that in the coming months, life will start to return to normal for us all.
Without sounding like the Grinch, I do want to remind people that, although it is the time to be merry and bright, we are still living in a pandemic, the virus is still out there and rules are still in place including South Gloucestershire remaining in tier three while Bristol and North Somerset enter tier two.
Undeniably, this Christmas is going to be different, please exercise extreme caution. The Government has stressed the need to take personal responsibility, to stay local where possible and to think carefully before visiting elderly and vulnerable family members to ensure they are safe during the festive period and beyond.
As well as Christmas, New Year’s Eve is going to be different for many as there will be no big parties or gatherings to celebrate the beginning of 2021. I know our officers do not want to be starting the year by issuing fines to those who are not following the restrictions but will do so if people ignore the rules by having or attending large parties or gatherings.
Over the last nine months, I have been overwhelmed with the efforts of local people and the sacrifices so many of you have made. I know communities and businesses in Bristol have found the last three weeks in tier three exceptionally hard and I hope the news of the city entering tier two will be welcomed. However, we need to uphold our determination over Christmas, the New Year and into 2021 to do all we can to further prevent the transmission of the virus. We do not know what January will bring but I hope by adhering to the restrictions we do not find ourselves in a worse situation.
I want to say a massive thank you to our NHS and emergency services for their support, help and hard work in keeping us safe during this pandemic. Without our doctors, nurses, porters, cleaners, police officers and PCSOs to name a few, I do not know where we would be. It feels like a lifetime ago that we were out on our doorsteps every Thursday evening to clap for the NHS and, although this is no longer a weekly ritual, let’s not forget that these men and women will still be working hard fighting coronavirus and keeping us safe over Christmas.
Finally, I wish each and every one of you a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year. Stay safe.
**This post has been amended following the Governments announcement on 19.12.2020**