Tuesday, September 29, 2020


‘It is a tightrope we are all still learning to walk. We will, and can do this. Together while apart’


A CONCERTED effort by Waterford people over the past fortnight has succeeded in bringing our Covid-19 numbers more under control, meaning that for now at least we have avoided being elevated to Level 3 status. It is important that we do not underestimate how crucial this achievement has been for our city and county, which is struggling economically.

Instead, our ‘wet’ pubs have been able to take those tentative reopening steps, with more to follow, including the historic Henry Downes pub on Thomas Street who will finally throw their doors open after a long six months this Thursday.

Winterval and Imagine Arts Festival can still focus on their festival offerings – albeit pared back and not as we knew them.

Our restaurants and businesses can continue to offer their services, innovating all the time as they adjust to pandemic-era life. The latest visual example of this in Waterford city is the Blackfriars Cafe tables and seating installed on Arundel Square. All around us people are thinking outside the box, for the survival of businesses they have worked so hard to create and develop.

But it isn’t smooth sailing for everyone. Just this week Central Hall, the fantastic venue created and promoted by Central Arts, which had built a wonderful name in the arts and entertainment world, both locally and nationally, must close its well-known red door. No doubt, John and Ciara O’Connell, the brains behind this initiative which added a valuable cultural string to our city’s bow, will reinvent and adapt their creative offering – but it is difficult to see a fine cultural establishment forced to wind up, having been so vibrant and successful only seven short months ago.

But Waterford is resilient. Urbs Intacta Manet after all.

The joined up communication approach from Council CEO Michael Walsh, Chief Superintendent of Waterford Gardaí Padraig Dunne, UHW Manager Grace Rothwell and Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley means their message of care is getting out as far and wide as possible. It adds weight and credibility when our key stakeholders are singing from the same hymn sheet, a crucial fact given the flood of misinformation on social media, particularly in comment sections – often deliberately driven campaigns to interrupt and damage the essential ‘true’ message that the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are at pains to communicate.

There is no doubt that life with Covid-19 is a lot more than a nuisance. It is impinging on the very fabric of the way we have always lived. We are intrinsically social as a people – and now we are asked to stay our distance, but not stay away. It is a tightrope we are all still learning to walk. We will, and can do this. Together while apart.

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By Mary Frances Ryan
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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