Steven Broomhead is chief executive of Warrington Borough Council and writes a regular column for the Warrington Guardian

We are carefully moving through the “release turnstiles” and the pathway to Boris’ irreversible pint (s) and our return to the promised freedoms and summer of sun and fun.

I would guess that none of us a year ago would have believed that there would have been 126,000 deaths nationally and very sadly over 550 deaths in our town.

It’s really important in the short term that our mind-set remains cautious and realistic as the bug will be with us for many months to come. Booster jabs in the autumn and learning to adapt to live safely with the bug are the priority issues to be managed in the short term.

We will need to make these psychological and behavioural adjustments rather than get caught up in the frenzy of the freedom and euphoria optimism. I say this as not a fun buster but as this last year has demonstrated it’s always better to be cautious and realistic. It is very likely that there will be continued disruption to prevention, diagnosis and health treatments.

The focus needs to shift to learning to live with Covid and what this means for our local economy, education, social interactions and daily lives. The disruption should begin to ease, particularly if the vaccine roll out continues so successfully but the focus on being Covid safe needs to remain.

There are many unanswered questions. What will our town look and feel like if many employees continue to work from home for the foreseeable future?

Our local economy has been very resilient to the impact of the bug but will this be maintained? Will residents continue to expect key services to be accessed via virtual means? Will the online retail “boom” continue and what will it mean for bricks and mortar shops in our town centre? When will business confidence replace business uncertainty?

It was great to see the return of outdoor sports this week. Our greenspaces and sports pitches are again becoming busier.

An increase in the weight of the town and mental health issues are just two impacts of the bug. These will require significant intervention in the next year.

Covid has amplified health inequalities between individuals and communities – there is a risk that if insufficient is done these will be fossilised. The work of Livewire and other health providers to lead and drive health improvement need to be fully recognised and supported.

The government’s financial support for the response to Covid has in the main, been positive and supportive.

We are now entering a complex recovery phase with business/job support and health improvement at its centre.

This will need to continue so that “normality” is actually delivered, particularly for mental health services which historically have always been the Cinderella of health investments. Our resilience, community spirit and resolve deserves this in our quest for a brighter and healthier future.