Please stay safe over Christmas and New Year

When I heard the news on Saturday that Peterborough had been placed into Tier 4 restrictions by the government I was deeply saddened.

I always aim to be a glass half full person, looking for the positives in any situation and it’s been tough to do this of late.

However, with the vaccine rollout continuing there is hope for the future and by following the national guidance there is a chance life could return to normal by next spring.

But in the meantime, I can’t emphasise enough how vitally important it is for everyone to follow the rules and stay safe over the Christmas and New Year period.

The new restrictions have been brought in following rapidly increasing levels of infection in Peterborough, which could be a result of the new variant of the disease seen across London and the south east of England.

The new variant is up to 70 per cent easier to catch, however, there is currently no evidence that the virus leads to worse outcomes than other variants or that the vaccine won’t be successful in immunising people against it.

For anyone still unsure about the new restrictions, Tier 4 rules are similar to the first lockdown restrictions, meaning that non-essential shops, hairdressers, gyms/leisure and entertainment venues have to close and people should only travel for essential reasons such as work, education or essential shopping.

On top of this, you must reduce your contact with anyone outside your household /support bubble to the absolute minimum. Now I fully understand that sacrificing a traditional Christmas with family and friends will be devastating for many, but I must urge you to do so to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and for the greater good.

It’s also important to be even more rigorous about observing the ‘hands, face, space’ rules that we are all familiar with.

The Tier 4 restrictions are explained fully on the government’s website here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tier-4-stay-at-home

We appreciate that this will be very difficult for some people, and there is support for those who may be lonely or isolated, or who suddenly need very practical support– and I would encourage them to phone the countywide co-ordination hub on 0345 045 5219.

For anyone whose mental health is being more severely impacted, there is the Lifeline support number 0808 808 2121 which operates daily from 11am to 11pm and for people with a mental health crisis you can phone the NHS 111 number and ask for Option 2.

One thing that has lightened all the darkness this year has been the heart-warming way our communities have pulled together to support one another.

There have been so many great examples of people going the extra distance to help those in need that it would be impossible to mention them all here.

Numerous groups, individuals, businesses and organisations across the city have worked tirelessly to make a real difference.

Sometimes it’s the little things that count, like having someone to talk to and making sure you can get everyday essential items. In ‘normal times’ we took these things for granted but the virus has reminded us how important they are.

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has leant a helping hand and please, if you can, continue this sterling work to help get us through the weeks ahead.

The pandemic has also shone a light on our council’s services, emphasising the key role they play in supporting residents with their lives.

Again, there are simply too many to highlight here, but special mention to our refuse and recycling crews – our “heroes in high vis jackets” as I like to call them, our school staff, teachers and pupils and our highways and maintenance teams.

So many of our residents are key workers – doctors, nurses, police officers, social workers, supermarket workers and many, many other professions – and they all deserve special praise for their efforts this year. If you are having to work this festive period whilst many of us are at home, then thank you.

I wish you all a peaceful and happy Christmas. Keep safe and remember online and outside is the safest way to spend time with people.

As always you can rest assured we will continue to work to keep you safe and keep the city moving forwards.

It has of course been a desperately tough year for local businesses and my praise goes out to everyone involved.

As a council we’re fully committed to doing everything we can to support local firms and we’re reminding them that they can apply for grants of up to £3,000 per month to help compensate for having to close during November’s national lockdown and now whilst the city is in tier 4.

To find out if your business is eligible and for more information about the grants visit Peterborough City Council’s website – https://www.peterborough.gov.uk/healthcare/public-health/coronavirus/national-lockdown-grant-scheme.

Finally, I wish you all a peaceful and happy Christmas. If you are having to work whilst many of us are at home, then thank you.

I also wish you a healthy and happy start to 2021 and remember, there is light at the end of the tunnel next year.

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