With the festive period now underway and a Covid-19 vaccine being rolled out across the country, this feels like the light at the end of the tunnel for many people.
I am proud to say that this includes some of the Square Mile’s older, most vulnerable residents, many of whom have endured a tough year and have rightly been prioritised for the jab.
This is fantastic news, and I genuinely believe we are now at the beginning of the end of this pandemic.
But let us remember that this is the biggest vaccination programme this country has ever undertaken, and we must all wait for our turn as it rolls out to those who are most at risk from the virus.
We must also remember that a vaccine doesn’t mean any of us have reason to be complacent. Far from it. Covid cases continue to rise across London — including here in the City — and there is now a real threat that the capital may be moved shortly into Tier 3 measures.
This would be a blow to businesses and households, the vast majority of whom continue to abide by the rules and play their part in controlling the virus.
That’s why I urge everyone to act responsibly and think about their actions in the lead-up to Christmas, in order to slow transmission, save lives, and protect the NHS.
For City residents, that means continuing to stick to the protocols of the “Hands, Face, Space” campaign. This is especially important if you plan to spend time with family or friends in a Christmas Bubble — an exclusive group of up to three households that can meet together between 23 and 27 December. We all need to remain vigilant to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
We should remember too that the pandemic is harming businesses. If cases do not fall, moving into Tier 3 restrictions would be even more difficult for them.
This is the reason why the City Corporation’s Licensing Team and Environmental Health Officers are visiting Square Mile pubs, bars and restaurants to check they are following the rules and remaining Covid-secure.
As readers know, Christmas parties and get-togethers for groups of mixed households are not allowed under the Tier 2 restrictions. Research by SAGE has shown that hospitality venues are a significant risk for transmission of Covid-19 — so if they are not following the regulations, officers can issue fixed penalty notices of up to £4,000.
These fines are issued as a last resort — and if premises have any doubts or questions over the regulations, I urge them to contact the City Licensing Team so we can work together to prevent another devastating blow to the industry.
We cannot allow repeated breaches by a minority of the industry to push the City and wider London towards Tier 3 restrictions when the system across England is reviewed by the government on Wednesday.
I know this is a hugely important time for hospitality businesses, and we understand the immense impact this year has had on the industry already. For the sake of the capital’s economy, I — like I’m sure all of you — will be hoping London remains in Tier 2. But it will only do so if cases of Covid-19 begin to slow.
And that will only happen if we all step up and play our part this Christmas.
Main image credit: Getty