The transition to a New Year may have been accompanied by some sense of relief that 2020 was finally over and done with, but no amount of wistful or wishful thinking that a return to what many commentators have called ‘normality’ lies ahead of our nation in the immediate future.

The advent of 2021 has not been accompanied by politicians, economists, medical authorities or lifestyle forecasters brandishing magic wands and leading us back to sunny uplands of carefree and stress free plenty and happiness.

This is not to say that we are destined to continue the levels of worries, concerns, and gloom that characterised the year now gone.

Community optimism and resilience is strong.

There is evidence that better times can be ours.

The dramatic improvement in seasonal conditions and the prospect that streams flowing again into once almost empty water storages in this region and other parts of NSW is heart-warming and morale boosting.

The doughty determination of thousands of Australian businesses – large and small – and their staffs to weather the toll that the COVID-19 lockdowns and close-downs took over the course of last year may well become proud milestones in Australia’s economic recovery.

We have been forced by circumstances to undertake new ways of doing things in this country in many areas of economic and social life.

Anecdotal evidence abounds of how people have rallied, co-operated and contributed to ensuring that the common weal was maintained and enhanced during the difficult times.

The importance of community engagement of and co-operation has been raised to new levels.

But, we are not out of the woods yet.

The relatively recent upsurge of COVID hotspots in NSW, Victoria and South Australia has highlighted once again that the COVID virus is persistent and extremely pernicious.

The balancing act that politicians and medical experts must undertake to keep a society whole and active while ensuring that stringent and sometimes highly unpopular limitations are place on personal freedoms is a role and responsibility that few people would easily accept.

The introduction of a protective vaccine against this nasty pandemic is still a couple of months away for Australia … and it will be many months before the national vaccination task is completed.

While we can count our blessings that Australia has escaped the horrific effects that the virus has visited on the populations of many countries, notably Britain, the United States, Brazil, and a string of European nations we must continue to maintain the disciplines that have helped us avoid a much worse COVID-19 invasion here.

If Australians can cope with a continuation of the absence of ‘normality’ for the early months of 2021 then we can hope to be rewarded with brighter prospects for the second half of the year.

It may be even possible to look forward to much more joyful and wide ranging celebrations when the Christmas and New Year events at year’s end come round once again.

Let us all hope so.

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