Hopeful signs at Christmas of a possible return to normal life

News Letter editorial of Saturday December 24 2021:

By Editorial
Friday, 24th December 2021, 5:13 am
Updated Friday, 24th December 2021, 5:16 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

In a small number of weeks it will be February, and two years since the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Northern Ireland.

Experts think it arrived earlier than that, perhaps close to the beginning of 2020.

In some respects the onset of the pandemic seems a short while ago. In others, the pre Covid era seems far into the past.

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So much has changed.

We are all much more conscious of the potential health benefits of keeping distance from other people, of avoiding shaking hands, of washing hands, of the possible benefits of masks in certain circumstances.

While old habits of people gathering in close proximity are returning, thank goodness, lessons have nonetheless been learned around the world that might help with a future, and much worse pandemic.

On the eve of Christmas, a time of hope and cheer and goodwill, there are promising indications that the spread of the Omicron variant might not turn out to be as bad as was feared.

In any event, there is much to be hopeful about. The vaccine rollout has been very successful, particularly in terms of suppressing symptoms, and has helped to slash hospital admissions.

After 22 months in which the population of these islands has been so patient at the suspension of normal life, it is a joy to see our photographs on page three of travellers returning to Northern Ireland.

Coming home for Christmas is a long-standing tradition, and a reflection of the deep affection that people from the province have for NI even if they move abroad.

Our front page also shows shoppers out and about in Belfast in ways that also demonstrate a gradual return to festive normality. It is not yet normal though. There is still risk and reason to be careful, and to follow the guidance.

We wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season.

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