Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that as of midnight on Monday, 4 January, the UK has reverted to a national lockdown. He went on to suggest that we will likely remain in one until mid-February in order to slow the spread of the virus and protect the NHS from becoming overwhelmed during the coldest winter months. This announcement, while not entirely unexpected, felt hard to take. No one has escaped the bewildering impact on our way of life that COVID-19 has brought. It seems like only yesterday that we were cheering news of vaccine discoveries and making Christmas plans with friends and family.
We know that this announcement will have brought great anxiety to many. On the face of it, a lockdown starting in January is a grim prospect, and a far cry from hunkering down last year, in an unseasonably warm March. Look a little closer though, and there is tremendous hope on the horizon. We Brits can be hard on ourselves, and our leaders, but if you look beyond the clamour to criticise, there is genuine reason to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel this time.
The UK has vaccinated over 1.3 Million people already. The Oxford vaccine has been approved, and the Government has secured 100 million doses. Because these are manufactured here in the UK, problems with supply-chains and distribution will be mitigated. With the Armed Forces providing logistical and planning support to help roll out the biggest domestic health operation in peacetime, there is hope the vaccination programme will gather pace. Further, the UK is the only country in the world that is focussing its vaccination programme on all at-risk groups – which should pay dividends as we try to emerge from lockdown quickly. Thank you to every one involved in this effort, from our health workers to the warehouse pickers. We salute you.
Here at Melksham Town Council, we have asked our desk-based staff to work from home. They are setup to remain very much operational. Telephones are linked through to home-workers, officers have access to our network and the Council itself is continuing to meet regularly via zoom. Our amenities team will continue to provide essential services in Melksham and will do so following Government Guidelines. Construction of the new KGV Play Area will commence soon, as we hope to plough ahead with projects while people are locked inside, so they are ready for when we are allowed back out properly again.
Our play areas and outdoor facilities will remain open so you can take your daily exercise and enjoy the outdoors. Outdoor exercise is extremely beneficial to or mental health. So try to get out in the fresh air if you can, even if just for a walk. It makes a difference. Please do remember the social distancing rules and respect each other when out and about at this difficult time. We need to stick together, keep loving each other no matter what our differences. We need to be mindful that while some things will be going surprisingly well for you or your family, the experience of this isolation for the next person could be awful. We need to be kind.
We have heard the words ‘we are all in this together’ many times. It’s an important message – but it is no less important to remember that everyone’s experience of lockdown will be different, depending on individual circumstance. An easy go of it for one person is offset by a much more difficult, scary time for another. Let us all make an effort to look out for each other during this period. Kindness goes such a long way, even if it’s just a smile, or taking the moment to chat with the stranger behind the till at the supermarket, or over the phone with an old friend you think could do with a chat. Never underestimate the power of these seemingly small gestures.
Stay safe, protect the NHS, save lives.
If you, or someone connected to you, needs support during this period please direct them to Melksham Community Response. Tel: 01225 809265, Website: https://melkshamcommunityresponse