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Last weekend my sports-starved children returned to their U12s and U13s football pitches for a competitive game for the first time in 2021. Just one parent from each family was allowed to spectate and I drew the short straw/was the lucky one to stand on the touchline in the freezing cold cheering them on to defeat.

On the subject of weather, as I write this from my home office in Surrey, it’s snowing heavily outside. Not just a couple of flakes……snowing heavily. When my local pub garden reopens this evening the locals will be digging out their thermals. Seeing I haven’t been near a ski slope since 2019, it should be fun trying to recreate an après ski atmosphere with just a five minute stagger back home.

The central theme here of course is that the door to normality is opening a couple of inches wider from today. Although what that actually means is once again mired in confusion depending where you live, England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. A hair cut but not a half pint….a work out in the gym or just another walk with the dog. Given what we’ve all been through over the past year it was never going to be simple.

And so in many ways, both central and devolved governments now face one of the biggest communications challenges of the entire pandemic. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged everyone to “behave responsibly”. While I’m not expecting any kind of riot in the queue at my local barbers today, I’m not sure I would like to swop places with my local landlord. And I’m lucky enough to live in a quiet Surrey village.

Over the past few weeks, every single Covid-19 catch up I’ve had with friends, family and even clients usually begins with the line “I’ve really had enough.” Although some selfish and irresponsible idiots have ignored the rules over the past 12 months, most of us have recognised the need for caution, if not isolation, and have followed Covid-19 guidance. I haven’t seen my parents (who are in the Scottish Highlands) since December 2019. They are longing to hug their children, and grandchildren once again.

The problem of course is that the coronavirus hasn’t been defeated. Lockdown and the vaccination programme (the one thing we’ve got right over the past year) have knocked the virus onto the canvas but there remains a real danger that it could get back up and hit us again.

So that’s the challenge. How do you convince a nation to “behave” that has been starved of contact, beer, a short back and sides, trying on a new dress or just talking nonsense with a bunch of old friends? I wish I could sign off this blog with a simple answer but there isn’t one. The best I can offer is to urge people to remember the darkest days of the past year. Those daily briefings that disclosed death and infection rates that kept climbing to such terrible heights. The Covid victims who died alone in hospital with no-one to say goodbye. The weddings cancelled, the jobs lost or the battle to work at home and home school at the same time.

Please. Let’s not go back there.