In this blog the Leader talks about the importance of still protecting ourselves despite the arrival of the COVID19 vaccine and our online plans for the festive season.
As I write, the North East finds itself in tier 3 of the Government's Covid-19 restrictions.
While further restrictions are hard on everyone, I want to thank residents for their continued efforts and the sacrifices we've all made. At this point in time, infection rates are coming down so once again I want to call on everyone in our city and across the whole region to keep working together and doing the right thing to keep this moving in the right direction.
The approval and arrival of the first batches of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in the UK, is the best Christmas present we could have hoped for, but it will be a monumental task to roll it out and it will take many months to work through the categories of people to receive it, starting with the most vulnerable first.
This means we won't have anything like the protection to get fully back to normal for a while yet so it's vital we don't let our hard work go to waste over the festive period.
So no matter how tired everyone is of not being able to see family and friends, let's continue to put their, and our own health first and continue to do the right thing.
Social distancing, remembering hands, face, space, and following the rules on mixing with others is as important as ever, and with a little more patience and perhaps a few more sacrifices when it comes to seeing loved ones during the festive season, we can look forward to many more happy times with them in the years to come.
In the meantime, the council and all our partners will continue to do everything we can to support residents, businesses and all the city's organisations through this latest phase of the pandemic and do our utmost to make this a happy Christmastime for everyone.
Our online festive programme continues so do take a look and join in, and please, keep the wonderful community spirit going that we've seen in abundance these past nine months.
Throughout the course of this unprecedented year, I've often said what absolute heroes our incredible army of volunteers are, and with Christmas fast approaching - a difficult time for many even in an ordinary year - our foodbank coordinators and volunteers are working really hard to make sure no family goes hungry.
The people of our city have been so generous throughout the pandemic and especially at key times such as the school holidays, so please if you can, support the Sunderland foodbank campaign this Christmas. It really will make a massive difference to the families who need our support.
If you can help, you can find details on the Sunderland Foodbank website
A big thank you to everyone for all your brilliant efforts so far and your wonderful acts of kindness. Please continue to take good care, follow the rules and guidelines, stay safe and look after those around you.
Cllr Graeme Miller
Leader of the Council