I hope that, if you saw the Prime Minister’s broadcast this evening (read here if not), you will have followed his reasoning: that the rate of infection is simply too high to permit even the limited social contact that is allowed under our current Tier 3 restrictions, or indeed those in Tier 4 areas.
The closure of schools until after the February half-term is perhaps the gravest blow. I have enormous sympathy with children who will be denied the company of friends and the experience of proper classroom teaching; with parents who will have to juggle work and homeschool once again; with teachers who will have to deliver their lessons remotely.
I also know what an awful impact the lockdown will have on local businesses who had a terrible 2020. I look forward to hearing more from the Government about the support package that is needed to help businesses and employees through the rest of the winter.
The PM did, of course, highlight the key difference between the lockdown last March and this one: we now know that rescue is coming, indeed is here already. As he explained, the NHS plans to vaccinate all care home residents and staff, and everyone with extreme vulnerability, by mid February. From there, we can start to unlock our society once again, and finally emerge from the shadow of coronavirus.
The Government has not got everything right in its response to the pandemic - far from it, and a proper inquiry must be held to learn the lessons. But some things have been done right and the commissioning of the vaccines is, so far, a great success story for the UK. I desperately hope that, this time, the promises of ‘world-beating’ processes are justified and we do indeed meet the ambitious timetable the PM has set out.
To do so we all need to play our part. Please stay at home.