The Lockdown is not over

The Lockdown is not over


I’ve grown a beard during lockdown. It’s my Corona beard. I will be getting rid of it in early July when I return to work. My face will be back to normal. I don’t think I’ll be able to say the same about much else. The ‘new normal’ that we hear so much about is still very much in construction. As an airport worker I will see this more than most. Air Travel will look very different from now on.

A lot of people still don’t seem to realise that the world has utterly changed. Just last week Twitter was full of pictures of people gleefully sharing pictures and videos of themselves at Dublin’s #BlackLivesMatter march. After seeing that gruesome video of George Floyd being murdered slowly while begging for his life I understand the desire to get out and protest. I share it.

For so many people not to grasp the danger they were putting themselves and their loved ones in is mind blowing. If there is a second wave then this will be Cheltenham all over again. They may get away with it. I hope we all do. The virus may well be supressed in our communities. The price of keeping it that way is constant vigilance.

Many of these protesters proudly declared that people shouldn’t worry, they were wearing masks. This is exactly the concern health experts had about facemasks. People get careless. Prof. Luke O’Neill is both an expert and a strong proponent for facemasks. They very likely make a real difference. He would likely tell you though that they do not remove the need for social distancing. If they did we wouldn’t have had a lockdown in the first place. There is still much work to do to make Ireland safe enough for us all to go out happily again.

The school argument is another example of the knowledge deficit amongst so many. Susan Mitchell of the Sunday Business Post shared an excellent thread on Twitter which clearly showed that the evidence says kids can get and spread Covid 19. They may not be super spreaders as originally thought but they can spread it.

Children by their very nature will find social distancing very difficult if not impossible. They would have to share bathrooms. They will choose to share pencils and sometimes lunch. That’s what kids do. Schools cannot open in a normal way unless the virus is eliminated here or we have a vaccine. Neither is likely in time for September.

And yet the commentators are arguing that schools need to be reopened immediately. They say parents need to work and schools and creches need to be open to facilitate them. They say this over 800 words usually. 800 words of completely missing the point. Of course parents need to work. That fact doesn’t remove the Covid risk. How many families have immuno compromised people at home? Or grandparents?

Schools are likely to be a very different place in September. Teachers will need access but many pupils will not. A small number in attendance with the rest on Zoom or similar might well be the way to go. Even at that the cleaning requirement at the end of each day will be onerous. A rub of a cloth won’t cut it.

Families who are vulnerable to Covid 19 should be able to attend school from home. It is not ideal but if we can drink pints over Zoom, kids can school over it. The potential mental effect on children of living in constant fear of bringing home the virus to Grandma could be overwhelming. The new normal must accommodate everyone.

The arguments being made to reduce social distancing to one metre is another example of flawed logic. They correctly say that a one metre rule would be better for business and more convenient. No metres would be better again following this train of thought.

You can’t negotiate with facts and anybody arguing for a one metre rule should acknowledge that people will likely die as a result. A one metre rule would lead to far less of a social distance in many cases. We don’t do rules well.

We are lucky that we don’t have a populist government. We basically have a technocratic government with health experts setting the rules and the ever responsible Leo et al rubber stamping. People’s lives have been put first.

They have done such a good job that many don’t see the risk at all now. A populist government wouldn’t have been able to get us to this point. Let’s keep doing the right thing. The alternative is horrific.


March image credit here.

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