I wouldn’t blame you for having a strong sense of déjà vu.

After a national lockdown, local measures, Tier 2, Tier 3, and a second national lockdown, here we are back in Tier 3 again.

There is good news, though. The Covid infection rate in Bury has dropped by a third in the last week alone, and a number of vaccines are on their way. Leisure centres and gyms are reopening, as are non-essential shops – including all the stalls on our cherished Bury Market.

Yes, the hospitality trade continues to take the blows, and the restrictions on our personal freedom remain as frustrating as when we started. But we’re getting there – and that’s why we’ve got to stick with it and not give up the fight now. Just because we’re allowed to visit family for a few days over Christmas, we must still follow the rules and take all precautions. These sacrifices will be worthwhile. We all want life to return to normal.

Among those hit hardest by lockdown have been Bury businesses, and the thousands they employ. The recent news around Arcadia and Debenhams has made this clear.

That is why I joined Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham in calling for extra financial support to be provided by the Government to areas like ours which have been placed in the top tiers and face months of additional restrictions. This is especially important for our hospitality trade and those who support or rely on it.

One of my top priorities is to build on the strength of our council’s relationship with businesses. To that end, I was delighted to attend – digitally – this year’s Made in Bury Business Awards, celebrating the resilience and tenacity, the imagination, and the bravery of those who lead our economy and on whom the strength of our borough relies.

The council was headline sponsor, and presented Bury Hospice with a new Triumph Over Adversity award for the way in which they have risen to the coronavirus challenge.

At the council, we’re doing all we can to support local firms and put business friendly policies at the heart of everything we do. We’ve set up a specialist advice team, town centre boards, and distributed £40m to 4,000 firms hit by lockdown. This week we will have processed the vast majority of the new grants to businesses and we continue to champion more support for those who have missed out on the latest support scheme. With the right plans for the future, and the right support, we’ll be able to build back better.