A thank you. And a plea.

Without being rhetorical, we are in unprecedented times.

Not since the Second World War – and never in peace time – has a government needed to take such swingeing measures to address a national emergency. The closure of social businesses like pubs and restaurants, government stepping in to ensure wages can be paid, the closure of schools. They are having an immediate effect, and will doubtless bring about some longer-term social changes.

We have also seen an enormous community response – spontaneous volunteering, fundraising, all to help the most vulnerable in our communities. Well over 100 volunteers, representing in some cases 20 others, have registered with the Town Council in the last day or so – others have chosen to support the Town Council Crowdfunder campaign to directly aid local charities supporting those who need it. I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone – volunteers, Town Council staff and many more besides – who have already given so much and will continue to do so.

With schools closing from tonight, the impact on children, young people and their families will be huge – both academically and in terms of social development, there will be challenges. A sacrifice, in essence, to protect others against a disease that, for the most part, seems not to affect them.

The point of all of these measures is to restrict the ability of the virus to hop between us all, to protect the most vulnerable – those in at-risk categories – and to preserve the resources of the NHS to allow it to focus on the virus, as well as other normal critical cases; at a time when it is already almost on its knees.

It is incumbent on all of us not to undermine these measures – to avoid unnecessary social contact. To minimise risk, and take the actions we have been asked to take.

We cannot swap the pub or restaurant for each other’s home – placing each other at risk, spreading the disease and potentially using up scarce resource. Whatever age you are – and whether it is a dinner party, a luncheon date, or some ciders with your friends – consider the impacts on yourself, your friends, your parents, your children, the NHS, the sacrifices being made by others.

Please, please, please; follow the advice.