While I hope that soon I will be able to write more columns about something other than this terrible virus, this week I think it is important to acknowledge that there is now some real light at the end of the tunnel following the most difficult of years for everyone.
The Prime Minister has now set out a four-step road map back to normality and this is the first time we have been able to speak realistically about the end game.
While dates have been established, these are – of course – conditional on the vaccine rollout continuing to be as successful as it is now. Government is clear – this has to be the last lockdown and we do not want to reverse any measures which are loosened over the next three months.
March 8th is the first key date for the return to schools and March 29th is next up for some outdoor meet ups one-on-one – and these are set in stone. I am so pleased the Government has prioritised schools because the last thing we wanted was yet more disruption to the school year. In return for this, we must all stay at home that little bit longer, but I think that is a sacrifice we are all willing to make to ensure our children get the high level of education they deserve. As fantastic as teachers have been at adapting to remote learning – and parents at home-schooling - there is no comparison to being in the classroom.
Lastly, at the time of writing, 18million people have been vaccinated with the first dose – a phenomenal effort from the NHS, Primary Care Networks (particularly here in Somerset), the Department of Health and local councils and another reason to remain optimistic about returning to normal life sooner rather than later.