Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Social distancing remains crucial during the phased reopening.


NEXT Monday marks a major step forward in the government’s phased reopening, with cinemas, hairdressers, restaurants, cafes and pubs serving substantial meals, churches, swimming pools and many more businesses finally free to open their doors. Already, society is breathing a collective sigh of relief, with visits to private homes permitted, and also visits to nursing homes – though following very carefully managed protocols.

Yet, we are far from out of the woods. While businesses are eager to reestablish a stable financial footing, the shadow of Covid-19 is still very much with us.

The location information revealed in this edition of the Waterford News & Star shows just how omnipresent Covid-19 has been in our community – despite Waterford being one of the least effected counties in the country.


‘We all need the economy to rev back up. But it won’t be able to do so if we play Russian roulette with Covid-19.’


When you click online on the Health Protection Surveillance Centre’s electorial district statistics, the little red dots show just how close we’ve been to the Coronavirus. Our excellent behaviour throughout March, April and May has meant that we have successfully quashed it but it started here with very few cases and took hold rapidly.

This week, another case presented itself at University Hospital Waterford from our community. Hopefully, the vastly improved nature of our testing and contact tracing now means that this won’t materialise into further numbers in the days and weeks ahead.

But it would be foolhardy not to take cognisance of the fact that our guard is down and our vulnerability therefore heightened. Hugs are being shared widely – and understandably. We have been a very long time away from our loved ones, grandparents from their grandchildren, sons and daughters from their parents, couples and friends from each other. We yearn the support of physical contact, a hand hold, an embrace. We need to share food together, and spend time in each other’s company. But we must recognise that we are making a choice each time we play loose with the guidelines, and we may inadvertently be putting ourselves or someone we love at risk.

Coronavirus started at the turn of the New Year in faraway China – within two short months it was in Ireland and as of Monday there have been 1,717 Covid-19 related deaths in our country.

We all need to take personal responsibility for our actions at this stage. If we visit a playground with our children, can we follow the guidelines? If we visit a house, will we be keeping to the numbers allowed? Are we maintaining social distancing?

If we go into a shop, how many of us are wearing a face mask?

There are reasons for the government’s guidelines, and they are not suggested on an a la carte basis.

We all need the economy to rev back up. But it won’t be able to do so if we play Russian roulette with Covid-19.

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