Many of us would like to wipe out 2020 from the history books – and all mention of Covid-19.
Demand on our NHS and charities surged, our social lives were effectively cancelled, and our losses were unquantifiable, despite a daily rising death toll.
Meanwhile, many businesses across Tayside effectively ground to a halt and still face uncertain futures.
A new year brings hopes of better days ahead and, thanks to the emergence of Covid-19 vaccines, achieving herd immunity is finally within our grasp.
But when we do manage to throw off the chains of this devastating virus, what new normal will emerge?
The greatest wish of one Dundee charity boss is that the agency doesn’t need to exist at all in 2021.
However, Siobhann Tolland of Dundee Thegither believes that’s a forlorn dream – if anything, the charity will be needed more than ever.
Dundee Thegither wound down a food parcel service to only regular users over the summer.
But, as the number of positive cases of Covid-19 has increased in recent weeks, the group is tackling a growing number of people in Mid Craigie and Linlathen who need help.
Siobhann said: “The drastic affect Covid has had on our city will more than likely mean that there will be a greater need for us than ever.
“Dundee has had a devastating record of poverty and deprivation for 10 years. We simply cannot cope with further job losses, unemployment, wage cuts etc.
“This pandemic has meant more people have lost their jobs and others have been on very low wages and this has led to even greater poverty in Dundee.
“Something radical needs to happen to allow people to survive. This has been a very difficult Christmas for many people in our area who relied on groups like ours to feed their families.
“As we move into January I am expecting the crisis to deepen and we are preparing to help more families than ever before.
“January is a very hard month for many with debt carried over from the festive period. We have regularly been helping around 30 families a week – we expect that number to rise now to between 40 and 50, maybe even more.
“Now there is deep uncertainty about the future and what it holds. Yes there is now a vaccine but how long is it going to be before it is rolled out to everyone and life can get back to normal?”
Joint CEOs of Dundee Rep Theatre and Scottish Dance Theatre, Liam Sinclair and Andrew Paton said 2020 was centred on staying connected with communities.
They said: “There is still a great deal of ambiguity around 2021, and we’re seeing it as a year of two halves.
“For the first part it will likely be more of the same as we continue to embrace the ambiguity and produce agile content that has the ability to evolve within changing public guidance.
“Later in 2021, and likely after wider population immunisation, we look forward to the moment we can welcome audiences back into the Rep and begin touring our work again, at which point we plan to be able to return to more familiar content.
“The goal throughout 2021 will be to continue to stay connected to our audiences, communities and participants with a warm embrace of familiarity, but still a few surprises along the way.”
Meanwhile, David Glass, president of the Dundee Licensed Trade Association, and owner of Doc Ferry’s in Broughty Ferry said 2020 had left the industry “on its knees”.
He said: “We all hope 2021 brings us some hope of a recovery from what’s been a devastating year – little did we think we would spend around 75% of it closed.
“Furlough started, ended, extended and extended again which, without a doubt, has gone a long way to save jobs and indeed businesses.”
“Back in April we received rate-based government grants but unfortunately this wasn’t for all pubs – those whose rates were over a certain threshold didn’t qualify and it was onto trying to find finance from other sources.
“Needless to say that money is long gone, being spent on the costs of mothballing, then spending an absolute fortune on becoming ‘Covid-19 compliant’.
“Customers responded really well but the latter measure felt almost wasted as we just had to jump through more hoops only to be closed down again.
“Meanwhile our costs continued, with standing charges on services such as gas, electricity etc.
“Pubs are more than just places to go on a Saturday night for a drink, we’re part of the community, a lifeline, a face, a lug to listen – even a place to just go to get out of the house and watch football.
“Pubs provided a safe environment, but the restriction measures drove drinking underground. The busiest people in supermarkets were those working in the booze aisles.
“We feel we were unfairly ‘blamed’ for rising Covid-19 figures –but pubs ensured track and trace, while house parties don’t.
“We were the only country in the world where no music or background noise was allowed. Does music spread Covid-19?
“We realise the ‘money tree’ has been felled but realistic support is necessary for the recovery of our country – and our industry if these restrictions continue.
“What we really want is for normality to return – and hopefully we’ve not forgotten what ‘normal’ is.”