THE only surprise in Boris Johnson’s announcement was that it has taken so long for the British government to take us into another, severe lockdown.

It was pretty obvious even before Christmas that having hundreds of children breaking out of their family bubbles, mingling in schools, and then returning home would have allowed the new transmissible virus to spread freely.

You can either see the Government’s response as being behind the curve yet again, or that it nobly held out until the last possible moment, because lockdown will not only deeply and unfairly hit education, but it will fall particularly hard on businesses, including the self-employed.

This lockdown is going to be longer than that of last March – it is hard to see much relaxation before the end of February – and, for many people, it will be harder. There will be no novelty in it, there will be gnawingly deep set worries about finances and jobs, and there will not be a springtime heatwave that lifted the locked down spirits last year.

Yet, unlike last year, there is a glimmer of hope: the vaccine. We have to ensure that until it has been rolled out enough to begin to have an effect on the infection rate, we do everything we can to stay safe.

It is, unfortunately, going to be a long, hard grind.