It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, and for a short time, it felt like, at least from Ireland’s perspective, there was a slim chance that there simply wouldn’t be any more need to comment. If only.
Ireland has taken a major step backwards, with two days of nearly 200 cases announced in the last week as problems in meat factories, Direct Provision Centres and with reduced restrictions start to take their toll. It’s distressing, in large part because we had come so far – down to single figure cases daily, on average, for a few weeks – and things are starting to look like they’ve come undone.
We’re currently on a summer holiday in Donegal, which has been excellent but very weird: no restaurants, no indoor entertainment outside of our AirBnB, and very limited contact with locals. We picked the spot partly with that in mind. Malin Head’s beaches and hills are worth time on their own, and dropping into the odd quiet coffee shop for a take out cappuccino and shopping quickly, and masked, in supermarkets has done the job. It’s not exactly a glamourous summer break, especially with the regular drizzle, but it suits the situation quite well.
The schools are supposed to open in about two weeks, however, and with the cases up, it’s a scary prospect, one of balancing the need for education for children and the need to alleviate risk as much as possible and prevent the ongoing spread of the virus. Honestly, it’s hard to see this ending in any real sense without a vaccine, which, naturally, will take a long, long time to develop and then distribute.
People are becoming frustrated; it’s increasingly evident that people are prepared to flout the rules, including in a number of high-profile cases involving a mix of the very entitled and the very naive, a day-to-day roulette wheel of the self-important and careless.
I haven’t been in a pub, a restaurant, a gig venue, a theatre, a cinema, or anything like that since mid-March. I haven’t seen my extended family since December. It’s hard to see it changing anytime soon.
We battle on.