During Christmas and New Year, the news has been dominated by Omicron – as we may all have expected. Yet there is much to be proud of in our fight against this virus. Thankfully, there are early signs that we may be passing the peak in London, and that the damage caused by Omicron in health terms may not be as great as we had initially feared.
We are urging the Government to look closely at the data. In the meantime, we must all remain vigilant. Despite a record number of infections, the Prime Minister has said there will be no new restrictions for now. But we know that two doses of the vaccine are not enough to protect us fully against Omicron, which spreads faster than any variant we have seen before.
That is why we must all get boosted.
In the Square Mile, the economic damage inflicted upon customer-facing businesses has been substantial. We know the change to the work from home guidance has been devastating – just when companies were beginning to get back up on their feet, they lost vital office workers again.
This change has also been extremely disappointing for those office workers who had just begun to enjoy the advantages of collegiality, community and coming together for creativity.
Clearly, this virus has not yet gone away. So let us look carefully at the data for ways to coexist with it, as people need to be able to conduct their daily lives without yet another repeat of this “stop and start” guidance.
About a third of Londoners remain unvaccinated. This is a significant proportion of the capital’s population. We must continue to make it as easy as possible to get the jab whilst addressing their concerns.
All adults can get their booster three months after their second jab. Children aged 12 to 15 are now eligible for a second dose of the vaccine. In and around the City of London, there are several sites that now offer both walk in and booked appointments for people aged 16 and over.
The Square Mile’s dedicated vaccination centre is at 120 Fleet Street. To enhance capability, a new site has been opened at Sai Pharmacy, 19 Stable Walk on the City/Tower Hamlets border. There are also many walk-in centres close to the Square Mile, all listed on the NHS website.
It is not too late to get your first or second jab either. The more people get vaccinated the more we can protect – and the closer we get to returning our businesses to normal.
London is crucial to the national economy, and we need to keep it healthy if we are to maximise its contribution to the rest of the UK. In this context, getting people safely back into offices is the best way to secure a long-term future for many of those businesses that rely on footfall.
So, let’s do everything we can. Let’s get vaccinated, test regularly, wear a face covering in enclosed spaces, let fresh air indoors and wash or sanitise our hands frequently.
Following this guidance will help us support the critical services offered by the NHS. It will also help us continue our daily lives as normally as we can and support those businesses who so badly need it.
Now is the time for all of us living, working, or socialising in the City, to redouble our efforts to stop the spread of this virus and reduce the disruption it continues to cause.