Saturday, May 23, 2020

Customers line up for the reopening of the Arboretum in Leighlinbridge as part of the first phase of the lifting of the Covid-19 restrictions. Photo:

By Michael Godfrey

THERE was little difficulty shutting down the country. The government spoke and all businesses, except a handful of essential frontline services, ground to a halt immediately.

The same cannot be said for the restart, which got underway on Monday. While there were noticeably more cars and people on the move, there was nothing like a Black Friday rush to bag a bargain. For starters, not every business was open. In fact, even the much-heralded return of construction workers did not turn into a riot. Estimates are that just 30% of that sector actually returned to work or will do so by the end of the week.

A point missed by an awful lot of people was that the return to work only related to those involved in outdoor construction. All interior workers will have to wait for another date before they can resume.

We also had the reopening of garden centres, workshops and bicycle repair shops, but again, there was little or no queuing at these either.

A little caution at this stage is a great thing. We are all sick to the back teeth of this lockdown and the sooner it is over the better. But as those who were out and about earlier this week showed, it is better to err on the side of caution rather than return to a lockdown that would be reintroduced across the board to combat a rise in the number of deaths from Covid-19.

But even with the best will in the world, it would appear that some people have the retention span of a pea. They don’t get it or appear to not understand the very concept of social distancing.

It is either that or they believe they are not bound by the same rules as everyone else. There have been a number of funerals of late, which clearly displayed how some people viewed themselves as different from the rest of us. What got me was the fact that these people appear to be above the law. On the one hand you have the gardaí doing an excellent job manning checkpoints all over the country and dissuading people from travelling. On the other, when it is clear that people are not playing by the rules, all the gardaí seem to be able to do is manage traffic control.

Traffic control is a very worthy function in itself, but surely their time could have been better spent than standing outside a cemetery to ensure there were no ‘incidents’. And while everyone is behaving, or at least the majority of us are, there will be the isolated case here and there where some see themselves as either being different than the rest of us or above the law.

But they are not, and as the recent advert states: ‘We are all in this together’. Over the next two months, it is up to each and every one of us to continue to do our best to keep the coronavirus in check. We have seen the devastating effects and the ever-rising body count – and those figures would have been far worse but for the extraordinary measures taken by the government.

For the next couple of weeks, don’t be shy if people ‘forget’ to social distance or don’t bother to wear either gloves or face masks. The more we do now, the better chance we have of all five reopening deadlines being met, so that come the end of August, life as we knew it before Covid-19 will have returned.


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