Una Mullally: Restriction-lifting opens menu of activities from which to choose

Government should be empowering smart decisions not infantilising people

If they didn’t care about public health advice, everyone drinking on the street would instead be in a house or an apartment  boozing together in comfort and warmth. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

If they didn’t care about public health advice, everyone drinking on the street would instead be in a house or an apartment boozing together in comfort and warmth. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

With another phase of adjusted restrictions in place across the Republic of Ireland, we now have new choices. If only it was framed as that: a menu of choices from which you choose one or two activities every week or fortnight. Yet when the Government “lifts” restrictions, and “opens up” new spaces and activities, it comes across as permission to do everything. In reality, you can’t have it all, because everything poses some sort of risk, and the more things you’re doing, the more risks you’re taking.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) understands risk, which is probably why they pitched the one-or-the-other approach with regards to restaurants or household visits, because it’s not about “and”, it’s about “or”. Some risks are lower than others – outdoor dining versus indoor dining, for example – but all interactions outside of our households pose risks. That’s not about being a party pooper, it’s just the reality of a contagious virus. What we should be thinking about is how do we measure, balance and mitigate risk, and how to communicate that effectively. 

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