Restrictions hard but Christmas still for celebrating

Comment & Opinion

WHAT CHRISTMAS IS ALL ABOUT  Despite all the restrictions, many of us will get to spend Christmas with those we love. 

While the uncertainty around Covid is disconcerting, cases must be controlled

In the last edition of The Mayo News before Christmas 2020, the headline on the Editorial read ‘A Christmas like no other’. We were contemplating a festive season dominated by Covid-19, restrictions and attempts to stop the spread of the virus.
Move the clock forward 12 months and, to our astonishment, not an awful lot has changed. Despite the fact that a huge majority of the population are doubled vaccinated, and now receiving their booster, case numbers are again rising and rising, and the Omnicron variant is taking hold across the country.
It really is very difficult to comprehend how we have ended up where we are, but the unpredictability of the Covid-19 virus is very real, and Government’s move to impose restrictions from yesterday (Monday) did seem inevitable once cases number began to soar earlier this month.
Have Nphet and the Government made the right calls this time around? It is very difficult to know. There is no doubt the hospitality sector is again taking a savage hit with the imposition of an 8pm closing time on pubs and restaurants. The entertainment sector is too bearing the brunt of the restrictions as it faces another festive season under severe curtailment.
But the reality is, cases number are going to reach record levels in the run up to and after Christmas, and something had to be done to try to curb socialising as the new year approaches.
While the risk of rising hospitalisations is real, we have to hope that the surge will not lead to an increase in ICU admissions and ultimately deaths. Signs are, from countries like South Africa, that this will be the scenario.
The hope too is that the incidence of Covid in schools has now peaked, and that if the number of cases can be driven down as we enter 2022, then the schools should be okay to open as scheduled during the second week of January.

Destiny in our hands
Many of us feel an impending doom that a full lockdown may again be on the horizon once the Christmas and New Year celebrations have passed. However, it was encouraging to hear the Chief Medical Officer, Tony Holohan, say on Monday that this not a fait accompli.
Speaking on Morning Ireland, he said: “We believe they (the new restrictions) will substantially cut the total volume of contacts across society, and we now, as individuals, can take measures to cut our social contacts, to stay away if you have symptoms and to follow the basic health advice.”
So, in short, it seems our destiny is again in our own control. Adhering to the restrictions will hopefully help us get on top of the latest wave and back in control of the virus.
On the positive side of things, we can still celebrate Christmas with our families, meet our friends for a drink or meal (albeit with care, and earlier than usual), and hopefully look forward to a 2022 where Covid fades into obscurity at last. It might seem implausible at present, but we have to find a way where we can live with this virus if it simply refuses to disappear.