Heatwave risks worsening fourth wave

Comment & Opinion

THE GREAT OUTDOORS Cousins from Dublin, Kasia, Mairéad, Siobhán, Luke and Gillian, chilling out and enjoying an outdoor lunch at Westport Quay over the weekend. Pic: Paul Mealey

A weekend to remember, but vigilance needed during fine weather

It was truly a weekend to remember across the country. The tremendous weather conditions meant that summer 2021 had most definitely arrived in earnest after a very dull May and June. It could not have arrived at a better time, with all our schools now closed and families all over the country making the most of their staycations.
Westport was simply buzzing. For the first time since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the tourist town seemed to returning to something approaching normality.
However, we all know there are still restrictions in place. The majority of people are sticking by the guidelines in the hope that the current alarming rise in the infection rate can be brought under control. Continued Covid vigilance is vital in the coming weeks, and with the reopening of indoor dining from next Monday, July 26, adherence to the protocols introduced by Government is paramount.
While the current infection spread is predominately among younger people, the rise in hospitalisations in Mayo University Hospital this week is a stark reminder that Covid -19 is here to stay and we must keep out guard up at all times.
With the vaccination rollout continuing apace, we are now reaching the stage when it will be about learning to live with the disease, and that reality is likely to continue worldwide for the foreseeable future.

Of course, the fabulous weather brings with it other dangers, with our enthusiastic behaviour sometimes creating unnecessary risk, worry and hardship. The Irish Coast Guard over the weekend issued a stark warning, and it is particularly relevant to people visiting many of our main tourist attractions here in Mayo.
On Saturday, the organisation stated: “All around the country road access is being blocked, leading to emergency service vehicles and life-saving equipment and personnel being late to the scenes of accidents. Every second counts in an emergency, so don’t block access on any roads, park sensibly and dial 112/999 and ask for the Coast Guard if you see someone in trouble in the sea or by the coast. Play your part and park sensibly.”
Those words will be worth remembering in the coming days. It can of course be hugely frustrating to have to park some distance from the attractions and amenities you are hoping to visit, but blocking emergency entrances is simply a no-no. Local authorities are now cracking down on this as much as they can.
Vigilance is also needed on our roads and in the waters around our coasts.
The heartbreaking loss of Monaghan U-20 captain Brendan Óg Duffy in a road accident on Saturday night will have resonated with every family in the country. No other family wants to receive that call, so take it easy on the roads.
During these warm weather conditions, extreme care is also needed while swimming or paddling in the sea and in our lakes. A day splashing about can too easily turn into a nightmare.  
The superb weather we have experienced over the last number of days is really what summer is all about. It is forecast to last for the rest of this week at least, so get out and enjoy it, remain aware of the dangers of Covid-19, and make sure to be aware of your surroundings and your responsibilities.