A return to a national lockdown

 

Sir, – Severe restrictions have once again been placed upon the public. We are told that six weeks in lockdown will allow us to move about again and “save” Christmas.

In reality, the lockdown is really to save the health services from being overwhelmed. The Department of Health and the HSE are supposed to serve the public but in reality it is the other way around. I have that déjà vu feeling all over again. – Yours, etc,

ANDREW KELLY,

Castleconnell,

Co Limerick.

Sir, – I fully accept the need to close pubs and restaurants to prevent the virus from spreading especially as, in cold weather, people are indoors and the risk is greater. However, I fail to see the risk in most retail outlets . When shops reopened after the original lockdown, there were strict rules about numbers allowed, hand hygiene, and entry and exit points.

We nervously returned and gradually lowered our guard, even as we began to wear masks. If these same measures were managed more exactingly, surely shops would be safe to remain open. We go to supermarkets and pharmacies and we don’t hang around long.

If shopping centres are riskier because of people hanging out in groups, then close them. Why can we not keep open as much of the economy as possible? It would save some jobs and businesses at least. It would allow people to have something to do. It would prevent shops from being overly busy in December, putting us straight back into more Level 5 in the new year. If shops are to remain closed, at the very least I would like the Government to explain what is wrong with my arguments. – Yours, etc,

EVELYN MADIGAN,

Dublin 6W.

Sir, – All that has actually been achieved to date by restrictions is “heard immunity”. Regrettably, we have heard it all before. – Yours, etc,

DERMOT SHERLOCK,

Churchtown,

Dublin 14.

Sir, – This is not “living with Covid”. This is not “living” at all. – Yours, etc,

KILLIAN FOLEY-WALSH,

Kilkenny.

Sir, – Over many years writing the Backbencher columns for The Irish Times, the late great John Healy used to say that if you take on the Government and win, you are the Government.

Take a bow, Nphet. – Yours, etc,

NUALA DELANEY,

Killiney,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – The World Health Organisation has stated that lockdown should only be used in order to get testing regimes and protocols in place. It is not, as we have already discovered, a means to an end. And yet here we go again.

We are about to unleash a mental health epidemic the likes of which we have never witnessed. We are also performing a self-inflicted act of economic mutilation that lends an ironic twist to our own smug condescension towards the British when they voted for Brexit.

This is lockdown in the depths of winter, not lockdown in spring.

The key to success is testing, and the Government has abjectly failed in this regard.

Questions need to be asked as to the role of Nphet, with its ritual recital of non-independently verified head-counts and condescending tone.

Managing the pandemic involves managing our economy and livelihoods, the education of our children, non-Covid health issues, and managing our physical and mental wellbeing.

What is required is a new advisory group, with new ideas, drawing expertise from fields other than public health, to convene and advise the Government.

And above all, we need to test. – Yours, etc,

TURLOUGH

O’DONNELL, MD

Dublin 14.

Sir, – Happy days are here again. Our Taoiseach has presented us with “support bubbles”. I have not felt this elated since 2002, when I received a packet of iodine tablets from another Fianna Fáiler, Joe Jacobs, to help protect us from nuclear radiation. – Yours, etc,

KEITH NOLAN,

Caldragh,

Carrick-on-Shannon,

Co Leitrim.

Sir, – I expected better from the Government.

We, who have observed social distance, worn masks, kept our social group small, and not been in anyone’s house since March, are to be restricted again. The measures announced are crude and cruel.

We have not been to weddings or funerals, GAA matches or house parties. Yet the new lockdown will penalise us. There is no differentiation or targeting in the measures announced.

After a summer of inertia, we should have the facility to pinpoint where the transmission is taking place.

I predict this will not work. The coach has lost the dressing room. – Yours, etc,

RUTH RYAN,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – What is the medical evidence to support the 5km travel limit?

What is the difference between travelling 3km or 20km alone in a car?

Common sense among our politicians is notable by its absence! – Yours, etc,

WILLIAM RYAN,

Dublin 15.

Sir, – Where is the other side of the lockdown contract with the Irish public? Our side of the deal is six weeks of personal and economic hardship.

A balanced contract should have specific measurable commitments from the Government on testing capacity and turnaround times and on effective tracing systems.

Any chance of the Government setting specific targets for these over the next six weeks?

Without sustainable improvements to our testing and tracing resources and capabilities, the probability of “Ground Hog Days” of increasing and decreasing restrictions as illness and death stalk the land is depressingly high. – Yours, etc,

PAT GARVEY,

Ranelagh,

Dublin 6.

Sir, – It won’t work. Why? Because the construction and manufacturing industries and schools remain open, not to mention the Border.

We have all witnessed the huge efforts taken by retail outlets and bars and restaurants to ensure safety and compliance. Closing them suggests blame, which in turn suggests mask wearing and social distancing to be futile. We await with baited breath for early December, when perhaps we might be moved to a yet to be defined Level 6 or 7!

Maybe the Government hopes that our attention will be diverted by the pending American election. – Yours, etc,

JOHN O’GRADY,

Dublin 22.

Sir, – Perhaps there may not have been a need for another lockdown, and consequent real hardships, if some people had done what they were asked to do over the past weeks? – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL WHITE,

Limerick.

Sir, – Where is the data on the damage being done to our young people’s mental health, special needs services, delayed cancer diagnosis and forcing our children off pitches and on to screens? Nphet spent months dismissing the benefit of masks but how many times did it or the Government raise the lack of intensive-care staff with the HSE? This time the only thing being flattened is the wellbeing of the law-abiding people who just want to work and exercise. – Is mise,

JOHN SULLIVAN,

Carlow.

Sir, – We have taken our initial response framework and moved up and down the scale without any questions over the integrity of the framework itself. Are pubs showing higher transmission rates than restaurants? Are gyms? Should there be an age-based approach to lockdowns? What are the effects of lockdowns on excess deaths due to non-Covid issues?

At a much more basic and moral level, there could be the question of how many, if any, deaths are we willing to accept?

Again, I offer no answer to these questions. I merely am unsettled by the fact that these questions aren’t being asked.

Statistics on where and how the disease is being transmitted are hard to find. There has been little or no example of substantive debate between opposing views on our response. Increased or decreased restrictions are not supported with any semblance of statistical or medical data, but instead prefaced with patriotic speeches written to rouse the nation. Those speeches are a particular pet-peeve of mine. This is not a politician’s “Reeling in the Years” moment. These decisions are fundamental to the financial, mental and physical wellbeing of millions across the nation. – Yours, etc,

MARK MURRAY,

Monkstown,

Co Dublin.