The month of May saw the continuation of the nationwide lockdown with empty town centres, eerily quiet roads, tube trains and railways and increasing numbers of people with the infection. The news concentrated on people's lack of ability to see each other and consequent impact on the nation's mental health. The Government commenced trials of the NHS contract tracing app on the Isle of Wight and also changed its national message to "Stay alert. Control the virus. Save lives". All the elections due to be held on 7 May were postponed for a year.
In the city, once again all events were cancelled. This included the NFRC UK Roofing Awards, The Masons Court Luncheon, The Sons of the Clergy at St Paul's Cathedral, afternoon Tea at Drapers' Hall, the Royal Garden Party, and the biggest blow of all, my own Annual Banquet. Needless to say that the cancellation of all events since March has been a huge disappointment to all concerned, but in these unprecedented times, everyone is just having to make the most of the bad situation that has presented itself during their term of office.
The excellent news for me this month was that our wonderful Company invited me to serve a second year of Office as Master, for which I am very grateful. Serving a second year as Master will give me another chance to host and attend many of the long planned formal and social events, both T&B and those of other Companies, that have been cancelled or postponed, as well as the opportunity to attend the many civic functions that take place over the spring and summer months. I am pleased to report that planning is well advanced for the 2020-21 year in the hope that life will have returned to something close to normal by the end of the Summer.
In the same vein, I am happy to report that the City of London Corporation have announced that William Russell, the current Lord Mayor of the City of London, will serve an additional year in office to ensure continuity of leadership during the current COVID-19 outbreak. The Lord Mayor was initially due to step down in November 2020 after completing a one-year term, following the scheduled election of his successor this September. He will now remain in office until November 2021, subject to being formally re-elected later this year. The Sheriffs of the City of London, Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli and Christopher Hayward, will also serve an extra year term until September 2021. I understand that several other Livery Companies have also taken the same decision as ourselves and the City of London, to extend the terms of their current Masters for an additional year. This is welcome news as it will enable a level of continuity and stability during these extraordinary times.