The balance between ensuring the Coronavirus pandemic doesn’t get out of control whilst protecting people’s livelihoods and general wellbeing is one of the most difficult decisions our national leaders have to take. Whilst it’s good news that lockdown 2.0 is now over, considering our infection rate in Test Valley is below average and continuing to come down, I’m disappointed that we’ve been placed in the High Alert tier.

For us, this means no mixing of households indoors, apart from support bubbles, with a maximum of six meeting outside. It also means stricter measures for our hospitality venues. It’s clear then that this is still going to be an incredibly tough time for businesses in particular sectors. Test Valley has been busy paying out the latest round of support grants and our discretionary grant, designed to provide ongoing support for affected businesses, is now live.

I’m comforted that the tiering system will be reviewed again on the 16th December. On a County-wide leaders call last week I questioned the Director of Public Health about what we all need to do get into the Medium Alert tier. The key is for infection rates to be falling across all age categories but especially the over 60s. A fall in the percentage of tests that are positive and for there to be capacity in our local NHS. If we continue to work together and reduce the transmission of the virus then fingers crossed we’ll be back in the tier with the fewest restrictions before too much longer.

Test Valley is also collaborating with the local NHS to help roll out the vaccination programme. We’re in discussions with our Clinical Commissioning Groups about a number of venues in the Borough, so the vaccine can be quickly administered to large numbers of people - and we’re planning to make a really positive contribution to the effort. More details to be announced shortly.

I know this year has been really tough, but as it’s my last column of 2020, I’d like to wish all Andover Advertiser readers a very Merry Christmas. It’s my profound hope that 2021 brings much more normality to our lives.