Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice shares his views on the latest raft of public health measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The new restrictions the Taoiseach announced only fosters an environment for house parties, unfortunately.
In his most recent address, Martin told the country that – from Sunday – restaurants and bars must close at 8 pm and that no indoor events will be allowed after this time either.
The government has made an exception for wedding receptions, with a capacity of 100 people.
Closing pubs and restaurants at 8 pm will devastate the hospitality sector. Anyone going for a meal would normally only be arriving at that time.
Unfortunately, all these new restrictions will do is foster an environment for house parties. At least if pubs and restaurants were open until a reasonable time, there would be some level of supervision and regulation.
This will go out the window at house parties. People are extremely frustrated that yet another Christmas will pass under the shadow of Covid restrictions.
The people of Ireland have done everything that has been asked of them. More than 90% of the population is vaccinated. We are among the highest in Europe for people administered with booster shots.
People have put their shoulder to the wheel and, in the main, adhered to various stages of strict regulations around travel and social contacts.
But we have to learn to live with this virus. Otherwise, where will this all end. We will continue to yo-yo in and out of varying stages of lockdowns.
The Taoiseach may seek to paint a brighter picture this time around, but the fact is we are entering another lockdown – no matter how he wants to dress it up with the help of his spin doctors. This is despite the fact almost everyone is vaccinated.
What happens if another variant is detected? Do we start back at square one again?
If you are not in the inner circle, you do not hear about decisions until they are leaked to the press and into the public domain.
Having been elected by the people, you would imagine we would be briefed on the decisions or recommendations. But this is not the case.
It appears as if NPHET is running the country. It is a black and white scenario to them, with no consideration for the consequences these decisions will have on the wider public.
If you look at young people at the moment, they have been robbed of almost two years of making memories with their friends. Socialising is a huge part of growing up.
It is alright for older people who have been there and done that. But some of the young people have yet to experience a nightclub with their friends.
Instead, they have been cooped up for the guts of two years, with no visible end in sight. This will surely have implications for their mental health and wellbeing.
The restrictions around the hospitality sector is yet another kick in the teeth. Having struggled to find staff to come back, they now face the prospect of having to let some of them go again.
The closing time of 8 pm will mean that some pubs or restaurants will not even bother opening as it wouldn’t make sense in their area. It is similar to the situation that transpired with nightclubs – closure by stealth.
We have to learn to live with the virus. The sooner we realise that, the better.