Lifting the lockdown: The changes readers want most

We asked you what restrictions you would like to see eased. Here’s what you told us

Robert Czarny would like to be able to go fishing again.

Robert Czarny would like to be able to go fishing again.

 

Although current restrictions introduced to contain the spread of Covid-19 are expected to largely remain in place in the coming weeks, the Government is preparing to unveil a plan for lifting them gradually over the coming months on Friday.

We asked readers what restrictions you would most like to see lifted or eased in the coming days, weeks and months, and how you think this can be done while minimising the risk of spreading the virus. Here’s a selection of the responses we received.

Family and social visits

I miss my grandchildren so much and they miss me. I would love to be able to visit them. - Bernadette Nash

I would like to be able to travel back home to see my family. I live and work in Limerick city, and so live on the other side of the country from my parents and siblings. But I’m conflicted on easing the 2km restrictions, as they live in an area that was absolutely flooded with visitors from Dublin before the restrictions were brought in, and I would worry about how quickly those same visitors would flock back if they were allowed to. I’d be interested in a New Zealand-inspired “family bubble” idea, so those of us who live further away from our families would be able to go see them, in a regulated manner. - Beth O’Neill

Emma Bolger would like to take her seven-month-old daughter to visit her grandparents.
Emma Bolger would like to take her seven-month-old daughter to visit her grandparents.

We have a seven-month-old baby girl at home and every week that passes is one where her grandparents miss some milestone in her development. She’s the first grandchild in both families and the only one in mine. I just wish that we could pop down to Mam and Dad for a weekend, door to door, no additional exposure, just so they could spend time with her. They miss her terribly and I miss them. - Emma Bolger

I live on my own. I feel the Government presumed everyone was in a household of more than one. However, many people in their 30s and 40s live alone and we have been forgotten. They need to ease the restrictions so that we can meet at least one other person in a socially distant way. This may mean extending the restriction from 2km to 10km. - Carolyn

I live alone. My mother lives nearby with multiple carers calling. My sister and I organise care and share daily visits to our mother. My two sons live in London and Madrid. I dearly want to visit friends, to receive visitors. I need, need to create and share songs and music with my friends. I need to hold and be held. I need to see my sons. My son in Madrid needs me. - Darina O’Byrne

I want to be able to cook and care for my grandchildren for a few hours. - Philip Mccarthy

First priority is to get rid of the 2km restriction. Raise it to 20km at least. So long as people keep distance it doesn’t matter how far they go, whether by foot or vehicle. I have not seen my son and his new baby for six weeks, though he only lives 5 miles away. Sweden, with its limited restrictions, has a similar Covid death rate to lreland and like lreland, half its deaths are in care homes. If Sweden was wrong in its policy, it would have many more deaths in the wider community than in care homes, as people circulated. It shows that limited restrictions with some social distance is sufficient to control lockdown without huge economic damage. We should end lockdown now, and replace with social distance, restricting large gatherings for a bit longer. - Helen Coburn

Cocooning

At this stage the restriction on people over 70 going for a walk needs to be relaxed. It surely is possible for seniors to go out, maintain a safe distance, enjoy a walk and return home. I think staying indoors 100 per cent of the time is running the risk of mental health issues for seniors. - Tom Sheedy

I’m over 70 and need to walk and cycle to keep arthritis at bay. I need, and for mental fitness want, the ban on my leaving the house lifted. - Terry Cormican

Please let the elderly out again. Here in Denmark, the elderly have not been asked to stay in - just exercise caution and observe the rules. From here. It certainly resembles a panic reaction (in Ireland) taking no account of individual circumstances. Let the elderly out for walks, let them drive short trips without stopping, let them see spring has arrived, the sky is blue and the sun is shining. Give them special access to supermarkets where the can shop themselves. Remember they too are citizens, the people who built and paid for the society that you now live in. Please let the elderly decide for themselves - they are not all incapable of making their own decisions. - Kieran Mullally, Denmark

Same as many people all over Ireland, I am over 70 so cocooning. No outings at a time of life where we need daily exercise for mind and body. Could be playing golf where distancing is absolutely no problem. I totally support the Government, I think they are doing a great job, but they could cut us a little slack... the vast majority of us are not going to take any chances, we want to mind ourselves. - John McCarthy

Exercise and recreation

Stuck in the city, we have no garden, can’t get out for a cycle as all the traffic lights in the city centre would make it a waste of time and if i did I would be going around in circles. I normally do 100km in a solo daily cycle, and I don’t see why I can’t cycle on my own outside of Dublin. I am in no contact with anyone, I go for the small backroads with little or no traffic. My family’s health is suffering badly by staying in. Is the cure worse than the disease? - Edward Dillon

Looking at the hills today, resplendent in yellow gorse and backlit by a brilliant blue sky, I found it hard to understand why locking down access to the national parks and Coillte areas is necessary. How much more likely are we to be infected in the open air while maintaining social distancing than in, for example, a supermarket queue? It’s clearly necessary to keep people within their limited geographical areas, but locking us out of the hills and the woods is disspiriting and a bit surprising. If people keep well away from one another, and wear masks if appropriate, could we extend the exercising radius to 10km, and open up these recreation areas? - Jenny Thompson

The closure of allotments was short-sighted, and should be one of the first restrictions lifted. Allotments are naturally self-distancing, a good form of exercise, and will provide fruit and veg to a lot of people who may not be able to afford to buy it in the coming weeks. But that is only possible if the allotments are opened immediately - otherwise the season is lost. - Iain Martel

I would love to see cycling allowed for increased distance, even just 30/50km. As something which can be done solely and outside, I think it’s something which should be looked at early on in easing of measures. - Anne McEneaney

I am a motorbiker. I would like to ease the travel restriction, so I can do a spin sometimes. On the motorbike I have no physical contact with anyone. - Hans Besier

Fishing should be allowed. Fishermen always observe social distancing. - Robert Czarny

Lift restrictions on golf courses, with 15 minutes between groups, and maintaining social distancing. - Noel Frazer

Dentists

Please lift restrictions on dentists or provide PPE in order that they can treat patients instead of only offering painkillers, antibiotics or extractions. You have to experience the pain to understand! Dentists v hairdressers? Hmmmm… let me think… - Michelle Bateman

Shops, restaurants and salons

I think hardware stores should open to keep people at home for the long weekend busy doing jobs. Being able to get out for a walk and some fresh air would be welcome. Pubs need to open on small scale before us elderly folk living on our own go mad sitting at home all day limited in what we can do with a limited number of years left. It would be nice to be able to enjoy a pint to shorten the day. The country cannot afford the cost with so many of our young people out of work. - Matt Power

The reflection of my hair in the mirror haunts me. In particular, the greyish, brownish roots sprouting from my not so natural blonde mane. Too scared, from experience, to home dye. Either open the hair salons (preferably) or the hat shops. I dream of sitting with a coffee to chat and watch the world go by. I never realised how integral cafes had become in my life. Oh, for a good lunch out too. Blissful things to come (soon, I hope). - Marie O’Shea

Hairdressers. My hair is awful at the moment as I dye it blonde and I’m feeling very down in myself especially my confidence. I have spent years of work and tonnes of money on my hair, to throw it all away for a box dye from a chemist. - Kim Mcgrath

Reopen hardware stores. Most are big enough, like supermarkets, to maintain distance. If not, they could sell like chemists: one person in the shop at a time. Or, phone and collect outside. - John Collins

Hong Kong has not closed any of its bars/restaurants, implementing 2m social distancing and everyone wears a mask. Their stats speak for themselves, considering. I hope we can bring back restaurants and cafes soon. - Robert Richardson

Ease restrictions on healthy over 70s. We’re sensible. Open up construction sites and all businesses not dealing with the public, provided they can adapt to social spacing. Open up DIY and garden centres to keep cocooners sane! On a personal and selfish level, open up mobile home parks, provided it’s acceptable to local residents and monitored responsibly. - Joseph Conneely

I would love to be able to walk or travel 5km from home and can see no reason why larger DIY and garden centres cannot be reopened using safe distancing measures. People have so much time on their hands that they need to fill, and if they were asked to just go once a week, I am sure they would comply. - Fiona Gaffey

Schools, crèches and special needs services

We’re parents both working full-time with a toddler at home. The last few weeks were like a never ending exhausting marathon, trying to manage two full-time jobs and full-time caring of our two-year-old son. While other countries are lifting restrictions on childcare first before any other restrictions (Denmark, Norway, Germany), Ireland is thinking about reopening crèches in September! It seems that our Government completely forgot there are a lot of families where both parents still work with no support close by (no grandparents or aunts), and that they need a sustainable childcare solution as soon as possible. Crèches are not schools. A lot are small. Our son’s group had only six kids and two teachers. Even if we can get our son to crèche for four hours a day in a group of three kids with one teacher, it will help us enormously. One teacher for three kids, no mixing with other kids, strict drop of and pick up times, hand washing… it’s all doable. - Orla

I would like to see support services for children with additional needs back up and running. Even if these children cannot congregate in schools, including special schools, they should be able to access one-to-one support such as speech and language/occupational therapy. Progress gained over many painful months and years can be lost in a matter of a few weeks. With very young children in particular, the losses currently being incurred may prove to be lifelong. For children and their families these services are essential and need to be prioritised as such. - Mary Barry

Travel

We are in this for the long run. We are smart enough to establish a controlled system to allow travel beyond the 2km radius ensuring that the concentration of people in any area remains low. All we need is a simple website/app that can leverage existing technology and databases. People can request the authorisation to travel by simply selecting their vehicle registration, destination and time; permission is granted based on the estimated number of people in the area at any given time (locals and others travelling). This system could be used to log all journey requests (e.g. food shopping, work etc), and allow the Gardaí to run Operation Fanacht in a more efficient and safer way. - Andrea Brunetti

Mary Costello (pictured with her two daughters) would like to be able to fly back from Australia to Antrim.
Mary Costello (pictured with her two daughters) would like to be able to fly back from Australia to Antrim.

We’re retired and live six months of the year in Australia and six months in the Glens of Antrim. We were due to fly to Dublin on March 31st but our flight was cancelled and the borders here closed. Experts here are now saying there may be no international travel, except to New Zealand, until 2021. We’ll fly home as soon as we can, and we’d be happy to self-isolate in the glen. Like most Irish families, we have relatives scattered all over the world, and thankfully all are still well. One of our daughters is in lockdown with us, working from home, and the other is grounded in London. I worry about the economic aftermath of the pandemic - what it will mean for the young, and particularly for the people of the North, which has always been so vulnerable, politically and economically. Keeping the connection to home via social media, the Irish newspapers online and TG4 has been invaluable. I’ll miss my Irish diancúrsa in Belfast and my rang comhra in Cushendall this summer, but Irish speakers of every standard are pulling together to provide learning materials online, which is much appreciated by exiles and language enthusiasts. The green Glens of Antrim are definitely calling to me. I’ll respond the minute those planes are back in the air. - Mary Costello

Continue all restrictions

I really don’t think any of the current restrictions should be lifted. If anything, we should be making them even stricter, by closing all borders and the two metre distance monitored strictly. - Tina Ndaba

Christine Harris would like to see all current restrictions maintained, as her husband has bad asthma.
Christine Harris would like to see all current restrictions maintained, as her husband has bad asthma.

I wouldn’t like any of the restrictions lifted. My husband has extremely bad asthma and if he got this, he would be very at risk of being hospitalised or worse. We are renting a room in a three-bedroom house with four other people, so isolating or cocooning is near impossible. We are lucky to have a roof over our heads, but because of the rental sector we find ourselves very afraid of what should happen if the restrictions are lifted. - Christine Harris

I think the restrictions should only be eased when infections have been reduced by a considerable amount i.e. 75 per cent of current amounts. Social distancing should continue until the virus is no longer a threat. The 2km rule could be removed in certain areas where the threat has been reduced or where there are no infections. - Daniel Francis

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