All of us would have hoped to start 2021 on a more positive note but, as the Prime Minster said recently, it seems that the weeks ahead will be the hardest yet since the start of the pandemic.
The nation is facing an extremely serious and difficult situation, so saving lives and protecting the NHS must be the priority during this time.
But, of course, livelihoods matter too. By the time the national lockdown restrictions are reviewed, it will have been almost a year since many parts of our economy have been able to trade normally.
Many larger businesses in the City have transitioned to working from home effectively but unfortunately this has not been possible for smaller firms in the retail, hospitality or cultural sectors that rely on footfall.
That is why the extra support the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced last week for business is welcome. We will contact eligible businesses in the Square Mile as soon as possible.
Nonetheless the national lockdown will, again, make trading for many businesses exceptionally difficult if not impossible. And some businesses in the Square Mile will struggle to make ends meet through the spring despite this latest support.
So, the City Corporation will continue to press the Government for further assistance and seek to treat our own tenants considerately.
We urgently need our economy to thrive to help pay for the vast amount of support being provided at this time.
While the pandemic may have changed how we work, many employers and staff want to return to City when safe, so we will need clarity in the coming months on when office staff can return to Covid-secure workplaces.
There is no doubt the beginning of 2021 will be a tough time as we deal with the national lockdown brought in by the Government to control the spread of Covid-19.
We can take heart that this year, unlike last, we have a vaccine programme. But this will take time to rollout and complete so it is important we each continue to play our part in trying to stop the spread of this dreadful virus.
In the meantime, we strongly urge all Londoners to comply with the ‘stay at home’ rule that we must only leave home for specific reasons permitted in law, such as to shop for essentials, to exercise or to seek medical assistance.
We also need to keep following these three, simple rules too, wash our hands, wear a face covering and socially distance. When we all do this, each and every one of us is helping to drive down infection rates, protect the NHS and save lives.
Please remember to stay safe and thank you to all of you who are actively involved in supporting our communities at present, whether it is through work, through volunteering or just through being good neighbours.