As the festive period approaches I would like to wish all East Lothian residents a merry Christmas and peaceful New Year. Hopefully, this year will see families able to be together and enjoy this special time of the year in a way we were simply not able to last year. We have collectively faced an incredibly difficult, exhausting, and often frightening couple of years and everyone deserves time to relax and enjoy the break.

While wishing everyone a relaxing Christmas, I am also urging people to continue to take precautions, limit social contacts and follow the various public health rules and guidance to help keep us all safe into next year. While talk of a tidal wave of Omicron cases is clearly dispiriting, we can all play our part in helping slow the spread of the new variant. This is vital to help protect the NHS through the winter.

As has been made so clear over recent weeks, vaccinations remain the best protection we have against Covid. Anyone who has yet to have their first or second vaccination should seek an appointment as soon as possible, while everyone else should book a booster appointment. Getting the booster as quickly as possible will provide the best defence against the virus through this latest wave.

We should not forget either that there are many who will continue to work during the holiday period. This includes dedicated public service workers such as health and social care staff, police, firefighters and the council workers who will remain at work to help those in need. As always, I thank them for everything they do to help keep us and our loved ones safe and well throughout the year.

Finally, let’s all hope and work for a better 2022, where we can begin to look towards a real recovery that tackles the health, economic, educational, community and environmental fallout of this terrible pandemic.