IT will soon be over – well, the snow will certainly start shifting this weekend, after the coldest spell for a decade, and with the R number dropping below 1 for the first time since July, the virus is beginning to recede, too.

With a spring release just around the corner, it has been extremely disappointing to see hundreds of people disobeying the police in Middlesbrough to go sledging at Flatts Lane, while there have been reports – and pictures of the resultant piles of litter – of scores of people partying on the snowclad Town Moor in Newcastle. Tyneside sledgers have even managed to injure themselves so that they required hospital treatment, putting further pressure on the NHS.

We do understand the temptation of a good hill and an unusually sledgable covering of snow, but people have to resist the urge to gather in large crowds on the piste – and sometimes they can be quite literally on the piste while they socialise.

We are so close to seeing off the pandemic. The vaccine is rolling out well. The last thing we need is for the virus to flare up in pockets because of people succumbing to temptation and gathering in large numbers. Those localised flare-ups will keep us all in lockdown for longer.

Just as the snow will melt, so the virus will be suppressed – we all need to hold our nerve and keep to the restrictions until then.