In normal years, I would be taking the opportunity of this article to wish all Weekly News readers a peaceful Christmas and a happy New Year.
This year, however, circumstances are far from normal. COVID-19 has dominated our lives over the last 12 months and, just as it threw us into turmoil in the early spring, so now it appears to be ensuring that our traditional celebrations are, at best, highly curtailed.
Last week’s announcement by the Welsh Government that we would immediately enter the third lockdown in as many months has completely destroyed the likelihood of our having a traditional Christmas.
Not only have travel restrictions been reimposed, but businesses have been told to shut, with no indication as to when they will reopen. Many, sadly, will never open again.
The reason for the latest lockdown is the identification of a new variant of the virus, which spreads more rapidly.
However, it must be observed that whilst the infection rate in South Wales is extremely bad – probably the worst in the entire UK – is is not nearly so bad in the North. Were most areas of North Wales subject to the rules that prevail in England, they would be in Tier 2; and, while there would be some restrictions, most non-essential businesses would continue to trade.
The Welsh Government’s determination to impose an indiscriminate lockdown across the whole of Wales is baffling. The impact on mental and physical health, on social wellbeing and on the economy will be profound, and no good reason has been given for it.
In due course, there will be a public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic, both by the Westminster Government and by the devolved administrations. The Welsh Government‘s imposition of serial lockdowns will undoubtedly attract the inquiry’s attention. Sadly, for many people and businesses, it will come too late.
Nevertheless, despite the unhappy circumstances, we must all try to make the best of the most unusual Christmas in living memory.
So let me say: do have as happy a Christmas as possible. And let us all hope for a better 2021.