Here we go again. This time last year Northern Ireland was facing a Christmas like no other. Now we could be facing a Christmas like no other for a second time.
The Omicron variant is moving swiftly. The Executive will have to move swiftly too.
That’s never been an easy task.
Extended meetings until the small hours, indecisiveness, mixed messaging and last minute decisions have dogged ministers throughout the pandemic.
They find themselves back on crucial decision-making ground.
What will happen to hospitality, schools and businesses — even the family gatherings planned for December 25?
In these pandemic days, hospitality was always the first to suffer, and that is likely to be the case now. Whether it can survive again will depend on financial support measures from Stormont.
A range of options sits on the table for education. Trying to avoid a full closure in January will be a priority, but the window for avoidance is closing all the time.
No one will want to be seen as the Scrooge who cancelled Christmas, but this time ministers must step forward with quick and decisive action unless they want us to face a similar start to 2022 as was the case in 2021.
Vaccinations can be factored in. The level of protection in society is higher than it was a year ago. The booster rollout has helped too. But despite all that, complacency has moved in.
Masks are not being worn as much as before. Social distancing has all but disappeared. These simple things we should all be doing need reinforced for a start.
The business community — hospitality in particular — will be expecting a short, sharp shock.
The fact money from the Treasury isn’t there for a prolonged period of lockdown means it has to be that way, but fingers will be crossed under the desk at Stormont it’s enough to ward off the financial threat posed by Omicron.
That’s where we all need to play our part — help protect the health service, help try to keep schools open, and, above all, help keep those we love safe and well.
There is a very thin line between recovery and disaster.
It is not an easy one for the Executive to walk, but we all have it in ourselves to tip it one way or the other.
Let’s try to give ourselves the Christmas present of a healthier new year filled with the freedoms we all want.
We can’t afford not to.