As we approach the end of a year most of us would prefer to forget, City of London residents and businesses have been dealt a fresh blow with news that the capital has been placed under the highest level of coronavirus restrictions.
The new Tier 4 rules mean people should only go out for exercise or to travel for work, education or childcare purposes if they have to, while social mixing is limited to meeting one person outside your household in an open public space and all non-essential retail must close.
People’s health must always be the top priority and it’s vital that we, as Londoners, stick to the rules and play our part in slowing transmissions, saving lives, protecting the NHS and keeping London safe.
However, alongside the need to safeguard the public, it’s vital that businesses which have suffered terribly during the pandemic are given support to weather the storm.
Here in the City, our pubs, restaurants, entertainment and cultural venues will be hit harder than most by the Tier 4 restrictions, at a time when most of them would normally enjoy their busiest time of the year.
The disappointment many of us experience at having to abandon plans for meeting up with friends or family this Christmas is also felt by businesses which rely on the lucrative festive trade.
I would urge the Government to keep its decision under close review so that the capital can move back into a lower tier, and regain a semblance of normality, as soon as it’s safe to do so.
As we head into the New Year with, at long last, a glimmer of hope in the form of the Covid vaccine currently being rolled out across the country, thoughts will turn to how we rebuild.
We urgently need a thriving economy to help pay for the vast amount of support currently being provided and to allow companies which in some cases face a threat to their very existence to get back on track.
In the City, many businesses depend for their livelihoods upon footfall from the hundreds of thousands of workers who, in normal circumstances, come into the Square Mile every day.
While the pandemic may have changed how we work, having the vast majority of employees working from home all the time is not a viable long-term option, and we need clarity on when office staff can return to Covid-secure workplaces.
The way residents, businesses, public bodies and, most of all our cherished NHS, have rallied to meet an unprecedented challenge during this ‘annus horribilis’ has been truly inspirational.
While 2021 brings new hope, we’re not out of the woods yet and must all stay on our guard, continue to act responsibly and make our New Year’s resolution to rally for one last push to beat the pandemic.
I wish all City residents and businesses as merry a Christmas as is possible in the circumstances, and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.