Leader's column: Staying the course against the virus

"I know that the past year has been incredibly difficult for everybody, but lives and livelihoods are still at stake," says Tameside Council leader Councillor Brenda Warrington in her latest column.

Tuesday marked a year since the beginning of the first coronavirus lockdown. 

As part of a National Day of Reflection, Dukinfield Town Hall was floodlit in yellow to symbolise our shared grief for those who have tragically lost their lives to this terrible pandemic.

In the midst of this sombre occasion however, there is a bright spark of optimism. Our vaccination roll-out has now seen nearly 100,000 residents protected with a first dose. 

My thanks go out to everybody involved in the programme for their tremendous work in getting these life-saving medicines delivered to residents as quickly as possible.

It’s especially important that the vaccination programme continues because it is starting to have a real impact on our ability to lift some of the toughest lockdown restrictions. 

Last Wednesday the Government announced that the 3.8 million people in England who are considered to be ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ to coronavirus will no longer have to shield after April 1, although they are still advised to take extra precautions including strict adherence to social distancing and limiting social contact.

I know that, after the past 12 months of lockdown and social restrictions, we’re all looking forward to the possibility of things starting to reopen, but we must be mindful of the fact that the virus is still with us. 

Tameside’s rate of infection has fallen consistently in recent weeks, but this rate of decrease is now starting to flatten out. Because of this, it is more important than ever that we stick to the rules and work together to protect our communities.

I’m particularly grateful to many of our local businesses for supporting our ‘Do The Right Thing’ campaign to highlight our coronavirus safety messages. 

You can also do your bit to get the word out to your friends, families and communities that we’re not out of the woods yet. 

The worst case scenario if we allow infection rates to rise unchecked is that Tameside may be left behind under local restrictions while the rest of the country opens up again, which is the last thing that any of us wants.

I know that the past year has been incredibly difficult for everybody, but lives and livelihoods are still at stake. 

The more we keep looking after ourselves and others, the sooner we will be able to return to a more normal life. 

Let’s work together and give it one last push.

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