As 2020 draws to a close, Cllr Janet Clowes (Conservative Group Leader), reflects both on an extraordinarily difficult year, where Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on us all and the lessons learned as we move towards 2021:
“Most of us will be glad to see the back of a year dominated by Covid restrictions, masks and being unable to shake hands, sit next to each other, or to simply hug those we love and care about.
Everyday lives have seemed conjoined with wider political policy, from daily national briefings, furloughs and restrictions alongside home schooling, getting children back to school, how and where we work, what we buy and who we may see.
For many, 2020 has meant grief, loss and segregation, shielding from a deadly virus with all the impacts of loneliness and isolation that “being apart” causes. Those in the health, care and public services have been working continuously since March with the inevitable ‘battle fatigue’ that this causes.
But even as infection rates rise again and new restrictions take effect, it’s important to remember that 2020 has taught us valuable lessons that will serve us well in 2021 and beyond.
Across Cheshire East, amazing volunteers have mobilised to support the vulnerable in their communities, alongside our health, care and public sector workers, in ways that are both extraordinary, wonderful and humbling. We’ve all had to adapt; working from home and communicating via the internet as never before!
Throughout the pandemic, Cheshire East Council has been required to send monthly financial data on the ‘costs of Covid’, to inform the Government’s response, (including a grant of £4m on Christmas Eve to support CEC provide Council Tax Support Grants in 2021/22). To date, the Government has invested nearly £200m in Cheshire East to meet the demands of the Covid crisis, supporting businesses, social care, care homes, infection control and other essential council services.
However, the measure of recovery in a post-Covid world must be how quickly we can return to economic and social ‘normality’.
2021 offers a message of hope, as the Pfizer vaccine is being distributed to priority groups across Cheshire East, and the Oxford Vaccination Data has been submitted for licensing approval. But we must be patient - the roll-out of vaccinations will take time, with the most vulnerable being treated first.
Recovery from this pandemic may take years, but vaccination means that in 2021, we will at least be able to make a safe start. I wish you all a safe, happy and healthy New Year.”
Cllr Janet Clowes
Conservative Group Leader; Cheshire East Council.