What was to prove the first of three national lockdowns was put in place for an initial three weeks – but a full year later the nation remains under strict restrictions on our liberty.
The past year has brought not just many changes but also a truly terrible loss of life, with the official British Covid-19 death toll standing at over 126,000. The scars from this pandemic will last for a very long time; particularly for those prevented from saying farewell to loved ones in person.
Lockdown restrictions still have months to run and worrying increases in Covid cases across Europe and in other parts of the world such as Brazil act as a reminder that we are far from out of the woods yet. Covid-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future, albeit hopefully in more manageable circumstances.
But in addition to the bereavement, grief and trauma, as a society we have been forced to adapt to a new way of living and working. There has been so much ingenuity, creativity and a can-do attitude that we must not lose in future. Nowhere has that been better exemplified than in the nation’s vaccination rollout following the stunning work of scientists in developing multiple jabs at record-breaking speed. People walking into vaccination centres or their local GP surgery, swiftly receiving a jab and walking out with a smile and occasionally even tears of joy on their face is now a familiar sight.
In a symbol of how far we have come, the number of people who have received their first vaccination now considerably outstrips the 27.1m who tuned into the PM’s lockdown broadcast. Challenges still remain but hope is on the horizon.
As Mr Johnson said on that fateful night a year ago, “We will beat the coronavirus and we will beat it together.”
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