Thursday, January 27, 2022

An empty John Roberts Square during the height of the pandemic.

 

IT was hard not to get emotional when our Taoiseach Micheál Martin addressed the nation from his all too familiar podium in Leinster House last Friday evening. There was a feeling that something had changed in this pandemic and we were fundamentally turning a corner.

The hospitality industry in particular must have breathed a sigh of relief en masse as the keys to their livelihoods were returned to them. They’ve put up with a lot of uncertainty and last minute changes to their trading hours and they could be forgiven for expressing some shock when the most recent last minute change allowed them to completely reopen again.

For the rest of us, it’s going to be strange attempting to adapt to another new way of life. Many of us will continue to practice caution, by wearing masks in built up areas and keeping our distance from strangers. This is not how we were raised, but it’s certainly how we have evolved.

 

‘Until the Coronavirus is spoken about in the past tense we all must continue to respect it’

 

Crowds are not to be feared, but they are to be respected. There is a real chance that this new found respect, and a continuation of some of the more common sense restrictions could produce a decrease in virus transfers, which could have a positive impact on our hospital admissions, in particular at winter time. Some hairdressers have said that they will continue to wear masks while working and there are many people who feel that mask wearing on public transport should be considered at various times of the year. 

University Hospital Waterford Manager Grace Rothwell, who has performed admirably throughout this pandemic, has warned her staff that positive cases are still being admitted on a “daily basis” and a cautious approach should remain in place. There has been outbreaks on UHW wards in recent weeks, although not to the extent that has been seen in University Hospital Galway and University Hospital Limerick. Elective procedures have not returned to their pre-pandemic levels and waiting lists continue to grow but Grace Rothwell has rightfully warned that protecting against hospital outbreaks is the only way that the hospital can eventually return to a full procedural calendar. 

At no step in this pandemic has anyone ever known for sure what was going to happen next, so until the Coronavirus is spoken about in the past tense we all must continue to respect it. The majority of restrictions have been lifted but the Taoiseach himself said “the pandemic is not over”. We should continue to live our lives, more free than we’ve been in almost two years, but with a new found appreciation for that freedom, and a well-earned respect for what happens when we let our guards down. We are all still in this together.

 

Editorial, first published in January 25th edition of the Waterford News & Star

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