WE are now living with a new reality which has major implications for each and every one of us.

Few of us will have faced a crisis in our lifetimes as grave and immediate as that posed by the coronavirus and the message could not be any more stark.

To protect ourselves and our loved ones, to shield our older and most vulnerable friends, relatives and neighbours, we simply must comply with the rules laid out by the Scottish and UK Governments in the past 48 hours.

The messages from the First Minister and Chief Medical Officer were as critical as they were blunt: our own lives, our communities, the ability of our NHS staff to do their job in unprecedented circumstances – all this is at severe risk if we ignore what is being demanded of us.

In order to slow the spread of this virus, human contact should be kept to an essential minimum.

In the words of our Chief Medical Officer, this is not rehearsal. None of us is the exception. If I have one message as leader of our city it is to urge all of you to please stick to the rules.

These may change and adapt in the days and weeks ahead but heed them to the letter. There is too much at stake.

In a city of Glasgow’s renowned sociable character, I can’t pretend life within the lockdown won’t be a challenge. Ours is a gregarious, outgoing city. And there’s a tangible determination not to allow the coronavirus to rob of us of who we are, of our humanity and our decency.

But right now, the best that we can do for one and other and eventually return to our familiar lives is to be patient and diligent, by staying safe and keeping others safe.

It’s also vital that our key public services workers can continue to do their job. The virus has, of course, impacted on the City Council’s ability to deliver frontline services.

Difficult decisions have to be continually taken, assessed and reviewed on an ongoing basis so we can concentrate our resources on priority areas.

Even during the lockdown, crucial frontline services like cleansing simply have to keep going.

And the ability to continue delivering care services to the most vulnerable elderly and disabled people is more critical now than ever. We have many thousands of fellow citizens on managed medication, who have no family or carer support, who have complex mobility issues or severe dementia.

This crisis has inevitably affected the numbers of staff available to deliver these services, which means that some people – those with family support for example – will not receive the same levels of care visits they would in normal times, so that those most at risk can continue to receive vital personal care.

Much has been said in recent days of the need to reappraise the roles many of our fellow citizens carry out. I couldn’t agree more.

As well as our brave NHS staff, our supermarket and food store workers have emerged amongst the heroes of the crisis. Our Third Sector partners are at the front line in supporting people and communities are being impacted.

We want to reassure them that we acknowledge their challenges and will be as be flexible, pragmatic and sensible as possible around funding, grants and overall support.

But I want to take this opportunity to highlight the particular contribution of Glasgow City Council staff and to give them my personal thanks.

Their dedication to the service of the Glasgow public is exemplary. Our city owes them a debt of gratitude.

Many Council staff are performing roles that may not be immediately visible to the public, but which are absolutely vital.

For example, right now it’s essential that parents and carers whose children and young people are entitled to footwear and clothing grants and/or free school meals know what contingency plans are in place to help replace school meals.

Over 30,000 letters are being posted out direct to home addresses with a £20 pre-paid Farmfoods card that can be used to buy food at stores across the city.

Every two weeks a further £20 will be uploaded to the cards for each Glasgow primary and secondary pupil in those family who are eligible. The council officers administering this are clearly essential to the many families affected.

Similarly, our Homelessness teams are working even more flat out than usual. They have worked with partners to find accommodation to replace the Night Shelter for destitute asylum seekers, which had to close.

In the past week alone, they have housed over 30 homeless people referred to emergency Out of Hours services, in addition to the average of 50 a week who contact the service during the day.

And they are working with colleagues in partner organisations to ensure that no one is sleeping rough during this period, even those in our city with the most complex needs and chaotic lives.

In the days and weeks ahead, our staff will require your support to continue delivering these services effectively and at the pace of change required. This is an unprecedented situation requiring an unprecedented response.

I ask all Glaswegians to have patience and perspective and allow our staff to focus on the priorities.

There are few aspects of city life not impacted by the work of the Council family. Please be assured that we are monitoring developments closely, following all relevant advice from government and reacting quickly where appropriate to safeguard staff and citizens.

And we will use all channels available to us to make sure all messages are communicated as effectively and timeously as possible.

Thank you for all your support.

And please: stay home, stay safe and keep others safe.