Heading into Christmas we yet again find our festive plans dominated by Covid-19.
The disease continues to claim lives and bring ill health across the country and my heart goes out to all those affected.
The vaccination programme has overall reduced Covid’s spread and its severity but the level of infection is still placing hospitals everywhere under immense strain.
Both the UK and Scottish Governments have tightened restrictions on social mixing in a bid to contain the highly contagious and now dominant Omicron variant.
In Scotland new rules require people to self isolate for 10 days if anyone in their household tests positive.
Clearly the nation’s health must come first – but we must all be prepared for the knock-on effect of these emergency measures.
Delivering public services over the festive period and beyond is going to be very challenging.
Depleted staff numbers will stretch resources to the limit. Exemptions have been introduced but any return to work is voluntary.
As a council we are meeting daily to review contingency plans and to best understand how to keep the city running and people safe, especially those without support networks.
Our staff have throughout this pandemic performed magnificently, finding new depths of individual and collective resilience. Partner organisations in the public, private and third sectors have been with us every step.
Residents have for the most part recognised the effort, appreciating that when it comes to coronavirus, frontline workers share the same hopes and anxieties as everyone else. Being a key worker doesn’t make you immune.
If I could ask the public for one thing this Christmas, it would be patience.
Covid-19 won’t stop us clearing snow or emptying bins or teaching children in the New Year. However, doing so safely may take a little extra time, especially if colleagues are off sick or self-isolating.
In the last weekend of November there was another sharp reminder of our vulnerability to external events – and the value of pulling together in a crisis.
When Storm Arwen struck, our staff were quickly out on the ground, visiting communities to check on folk, clearing debris and repairing buildings in the aftermath. That work goes on.
The storms ahead may take many forms but through a keen appreciation of risk and an unshakeable team spirit, we are well placed to deal with them.
We should all take heart from how we have done to date. You have been fantastic.
I hope you have a merry and safe Christmas and look forward to catching up in the New Year.