This is a pretty momentous week here in Northern Ireland, as not only will the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to protect people from Covid -19 begin to be rolled out today, lockdown restrictions will also be eased on Friday which means we will be getting back to something resembling normal and long may that continue!
First People Having Their Vaccine Today
The first people will be having their vaccinations today, these will include the elderly and people in high risk categories. Approximately 25,000 doses of the vaccine have arrived here. The roll-out is of course a major undertaking and so it will take some time before the benefits are felt and the authorities are still urging extreme caution as we go about our daily business. The number of positive cases of coronavirus is still high here in Northern Ireland, so we are not out of the woods yet but a clearing is in sight as Boris Johnson might say!
Authorities Are Still Urging Caution
Health minister Robin Swann, quoted on the Belfast Live website, is urging caution, believing the next days are crucial. He said:
“We still have a number of crucial days left of the current lockdown measures and we need to fully maximise the benefit from these.
“The more we stay at home and minimise our contacts with each other, the more we can push down infection rates.
“That way, we can protect each other and help give the health service some vital breathing space.
“We are going into this festive season with hopes and fears co-existing side by side. There is great optimism with the first of the Covid-19 vaccines now approved and its long roll-out beginning this week.
“But there are genuine fears that this optimism could lead to people letting their guard down much too soon.
“It is vital to remember that this vaccination programme will take many months to complete and our rate of progress will depend on available supplies. It is a long-term undertaking.
“While we are entering a new phase, the pandemic is far from over. This is a time for maximum self-discipline – a time for us all to be ultra-vigilant.”
Restaurants & Bars To Reopen On Friday
As from Friday restaurants and cafes can open for business again, which will be a great relief to those businesses, as well as pubs as long as they serve their drinks accompanied by a substantial meal. Whether that includes a scotch egg seems to still be up for debate!
So with the rolling out of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, along with other vaccines potentially on the horizon, the signs are looking a whole lot more promising. With government help with funding until businesses can truly get back on their feet, hopefully most will survive to fight another day and even prosper as 2021 rolls on.