Our location disadvantages mean our vaccination rate must be among the quickest
If most of Europe reopens ahead of us we will be forgotten, falling behind in the race to lure investment and tourism
The speed at which people are vaccinated is the only aspect of this that the Government controls. But it is falling far short of what is needed. Photograph: Getty Images
Brexit has combined with Covid-19 to leave the Republic in a parlous place. As the week rolled on, Brexit’s consequences became clear. Businesses face extra costs for trading with Britain, which is now a third country sitting firmly between us and the EU, of which we remain a member.
Continued high Covid infection rates mean that tough restrictions are here indefinitely, crippling local businesses and stalling hopes that those left jobless as a consequence can return to work quickly.
As a backdrop we have lost many of the flights we had with Europe, the US and elsewhere, that would have eased, if not cancelled out, Brexit’s impact.
So, we are left sitting in the North Atlantic with a large barrier between us and the world’s biggest trade bloc and few links to the outside world. It’s like repeating the 1930s only this time the pubs are closed.
The speed at which people are vaccinated is the only aspect of this that the Government controls. But it is falling far short of what is needed.
Merely saying that we are keeping up with Europe is not enough– the disadvantages we face mean that our vaccination rate has to be well ahead of anywhere else.
If most of Europe reopens ahead of us we will be forgotten, and we will face an uphill struggle reinstating ourselves in our neighbours’ memories, falling behind in the race to lure investment and tourism from either the EU or US.
Speed of vaccination is particularly key for tourism and hospitality. If lockdowns continue until the end of March, with no certainty for air travel, those industries can write off 2021 as well. However, if we open ahead of everyone else those businesses can at least begin their recovery.
So far, though, the Government has simply fallen back on its habit of explaining why it cannot do things when it should instead be using its resources to find ways of solving the problems. What happens in the next few weeks is far too vital to allow it away with that approach this time.