SO 2020 is almost behind us, and it’s safe to say most of us are counting down the days.

With vaccines now becoming available for Covid-19 there is good reason to be optimistic looking forward to a much brighter 2021.

It’s clear from the daily figures released last week that Covid-19 cases have fallen significantly in West Dunbartonshire in the last few weeks. None of us wanted more restrictions to be put in place, with Level 3 and 4 restrictions being particularly difficult for the hospitality sector and personal services like hairdressers having to close.

I have received a number of enquiries over the last month as we went into Level 4 restrictions and back to Level 3, from hospitality businesses, big and small, and local independent businesses looking for guidance on how to trade, and what support is available, which shows just how changeable the situation has been from week to week.

We are almost there, though, so a big “thank you” for continuing to play your part in keeping West Dunbartonshire safe.

The roll out of Covid-19 vaccines is no cause for complacency as it is not expected to offer 100 per cent protection, so until we get widespread vaccination and immunity, we still need to take certain precautions.

I would ask you to continue to help reduce the spread of the virus in our community by remembering FACTS: Face coverings, Avoid crowded places, Clean your hands regularly, Two metre distance from others, and Self-isolate and get tested if you have symptoms.

A good thing that has come out of the pandemic has been an increase in what I can only call community kindness. What has really stood out is the amazing effort that our residents have made. A positive community spirit has grown, with people coming together to look out for friends, neighbours, and elderly or vulnerable members of our community.

The volunteer network that grew during the height of lockdown continues to care for others. Community groups and clubs have adapted, and churches have got together to deliver services online.

West Dunbartonshire Council continues to lead in other areas, such as the Shine programme to prevent holiday hunger for school age children, and the expansion of free school meals for all children P1-P7 which the SNP led Scottish Government has now announced will become a national policy.

Finally, I want to thank our NHS heroes, the care workers, emergency services and the key workers, who will be working hard – as they have all year – to support us safely over the coming weeks.

Please, do the right thing, and return the favour, by being Covid safe as you celebrate at Christmas.