Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Shoppers come back to Waterford’s city centre. Photo: Joe Evans

 

‘Life has to recommence but wear a mask where you can, keep your social distance, and leave Covid-19 to languish elsewhere.’

 

MONDAY marked a crucial juncture for Waterford, as Phase 2 commenced with a renewed sense of purpose for the business community, strongly supported by Waterford Council, Waterford Chamber and various other business support groups and initiatives in the city.

It is the start of a slow, delicate and arduous process – but one that business people and the public are keen to engage proactively with.

There will be set-backs along the way, and the gathering of large crowds with little to no social distancing at the Black Lives Matter protest in the city on Saturday adds to the concern that not enough people are taking their personal responsibility in relation to Covid-19 seriously enough.

Phase 2, as it should be, is about people re-emerging from a lockdown situation, now able to travel up to 20km from their home or throughout the entire County of Waterford – or whatever county they reside in. It is about maintaining social distancing and respecting that those re-opening their businesses are themselves exposed and dependent on others’ good behaviour. Never has the phrase, “we’re all in this together”, been more important.

We are in a strong position. On a national level, our coronavirus figures have remained consistently low, with very few additional Waterford people contracting the disease in the last fortnight. That is thanks to our wonderful front line workers – our two hospitals, including the state-of-the-art Dunmore Wing at University Hospital Waterford, our exemplary GP’s and the care they have taken, our brilliant nursing homes and their staff, and so many more. But it is also, in huge part, thanks to you, the public. You remained at home, you stayed your distance.

It is natural, now, to want to throw caution to the wind. For countless people, and their families and children, grandchildren, teenagers, couples etc the patience levels are running very low. Our need for contact with people, to visit loved ones we’ve so carefully stayed away from, to reach out and impart a yearned for hug, is all perfectly normal and understandable. It has been a very long few months – but we are not at the finish line. If anything, we are just at the start – and Covid 19 remains with us.

So we must emerge and re-engage, life has to recommence. Our local economy is entirely dependent on us. There is a lot to enjoy, and plenty of quality and value to be had in Waterford. If we participate carefully and consistently, making deliberate choices to spend our money locally, while the economy might not immediately bounce back, it will get the engine re-started and the recovery can begin. But wear a mask where you can, keep your social distance, and leave Covid-19 to languish elsewhere.

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