‘Emergency over’ – false dawn or decisive breakthrough?

 

Sir, – “Emergency over” (News, January 22nd).

If ever a headline was going to “tempt fate” that was it! – Yours, etc,

DENIS O’SHAUGHNESSY,

Kilbride,

Co Meath.

A chara, – The front page of Saturday’s Irish Times carried a picture of a beaming Taoiseach smiling like the proverbial “Chesire Cat”.

Does he know something I don’t? – Yours, etc,

DEREK HENRY CARR,

Dublin 1.

Sir, – Dat’s dat den. – Yours, etc,

JOAN SHEFFIELD,

Dalkey,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Chatting to people and listening to the radio, one would think that the Taoiseach has taken on the mantle of St Patrick. While St Patrick may have banished the snakes from Ireland, Micheál Martin has lifted restrictions but has not banished the corona virus from our shores! – Yours, etc,

OLIVIA DUNNE,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Having decided to let it rip, let’s hope it is not going to be a case of RIP. – Yours, etc,

PAUL WALSH,

Skerries,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – With pubs and nightclubs reopening fully, might the Government advice of “a phased reopening of offices” be rephrased to “a staggered reopening of offices”? – Yours, etc,

STEPHEN McCABE,

Dublin 22.

Sir, – That’s a nice photo by Sam Boal of customers drinking in Doheny & Nesbitt’s pub in Dublin as the Taoiseach made his announcement of the ending of the Covid restrictions (January 22nd). It was even mentioned on RTÉ’s “It Says in the Papers”. However, contrary to what the caption says, not one of the customers was actually watching the television broadcast, which, hopefully, is a sign of things really getting back to normal. – Yours, etc,

MARK CROWTHER,

Marino,

Dublin 3.

Sir, – I await the Amadán variant. – Yours, etc,

RORY NOONAN,

Dalkey,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Now that Nphet and the Government have made a complete farce of the whole Covid business by throwing caution to the wind, might I suggest an abject official apology be made to all those cruelly denied access to loved ones who died alone during the restrictions. – Yours, etc,

RORY O’MAHONY,

Kilkenny.

Sir, – Once again the Coalition has taken an opportunity- to relax some restrictions – and completely messed it up . By going for a free-for-all situation, the Government has effectively made the vaccinated fearful in public situations, made acquiring boosters pointless and given succour to the hardline holdouts who can now say there is no point in getting vaccinated anyway. And all for what? A few weeks of freedom before the next variant arrives and a society less capable than ever of dealing with the next wave. Still, at least the Vintners’ Federation will be happy for a brief while! – Yours, etc,

JOHN COTTER,

Ferrybank,

Waterford.

Sir, – The minutes of Nphet’s meeting on December 16th, 2021, noted a discussion of proposals for “mandatory vaccination” based on “a forthcoming paper from the Department of Health on the relevant ethical and legal considerations” (News, January 10th).

But at its meeting on January 20th, Nphet recommended that all remaining Covid restrictions be lifted on the grounds that there was “no longer a public health rationale” for the measures.

So in the space of just 35 days, Nphet went from believing that a public health emergency of such gravity existed that it warranted consideration of an unprecedented attack on the constitutional right of Irish citizens, to believing that the emergency had effectively come to an end.

Not since Napoleon’s flight from Russia has such a hasty retreat been beaten.

Has Nphet given any account of their reasons for this? Or has the Government – to whom it supposedly reports – even asked it?

Paul Cullen (“Covid-19 pandemic as we have known it is going to be behind us soon”, Analysis, January 22nd) posits three possible reasons for the sudden change of tack: the effectiveness of vaccines; the relative weakness of the Omicron variant; and the crowding out of the Delta variant by Omicron. But each of these factors was already well known by mid-December based on extensive evidence from South Africa and the United States, where Omicron was already rampant.

So at the very least, it’s now clear that the positions taken by Nphet in December were wildly alarmist. Will there be any accountability for this? Or, as on every previous occasion, will this be quietly forgotten about?

As the pandemic fades into the rear-view mirror, the full consequences for businesses, the mental health of the population, the surge in domestic violence, the delayed diagnosis of serious illnesses, and many other factors, will begin to crystallise. For the integrity of our democracy, and to allow us to deal with these issues, it is vital that Nphet, politicians, academia and the media are all publicly held to account for the positions they took over the last two years. – Yours, etc,

BARRY WALSH,

Clontarf,

Dublin 3.

Sir, – I am confused. I must wear a mask to enter my local village shop to buy The Irish Times, but it’s perfectly all right for me to go without a mask to a nightclub to throb the sweaty night away, hour after hour, with complete strangers, up very close and personal. – Yours, etc,

CHARLES DUDLEY,

Gorey,

Co Wexford.

Sir, – As we celebrate the easing of restrictions allowing us to socialise in restaurants, bars and nightclubs without masks or social distancing, let’s spare a thought for our children who are still required to wear masks at school. It appears that they are easy targets because there is no financial gain to lifting this restriction. – Yours, etc,

ANNE BOLAND,

Terenure,

Dublin 6.

Sir, – Why have vaccine certs been discarded as a requirement of entry to pubs and restaurants? This makes no sense and allows the anti-vaccine and anti-mask brigade to roam freely among the more responsibly minded people who have contributed to this sudden and somewhat surprising liberation of society. – Yours, etc,

ALAN DONNELLY,

Sutton,

Dublin 13.

Sir, – Now as the reopening of our country has been announced, I cannot help but think about what I’ve learned from the pandemic and reflect upon what has changed for me over these past two years and what I know I will continue to do no matter whether our country is in a lockdown or without any restrictions whatsoever.

I will continue to wear a face mask in shops, on public transport and in any other indoor spaces where I come together with strangers.

I will continue to avoid crowds, which could mean, for example, not taking the bus when it is crowded but, instead, waiting for the next one or even walking when the distance is not too far and when it is a nice enough day.

I will continue to use hand sanitiser whenever I touch something when out and about or when I’ve touched something that I’ve brought into my house, such as shopping or a parcel.

I will continue to wash my hands with soap and hot water first thing when I come home.

When I have cold or flu-like symptoms, even a little scratch in the throat, I will self-isolate and test myself and, if the test is positive, I will do a PCR test.

Those five rules will help me to keep myself and others around me safe. And those rules seem useful to me not only to prevent the spread and thereby further mutations of Covid-19 but also the spread of any other diseases. I am of the opinion that if the majority of the population did the same, we would not only get on top of the Covid crisis but also have fewer ailments in the country such as flu. – Yours, etc,

MELANIE LEAMY,

Bray,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Do you mean to say I’ve to clean the house now for all the visitors? – Yours, etc,

JENNY MAGUIRE,

Dublin 5.