By Darren Casserly
Over the past couple of months, the government has hid behind the National Public Health Emergency Team’s (NPHET) press conferences and Dr. Ronan Glynn’s comments, which have turned him into something of a lightning rod for people’s anger over this seemingly never-ending lockdown.
There is no roadmap back like there was last summer, it is very much a wait and see. This article has been written prior to the April 5th lockdown update, so we don’t know if anything changes or if we do have a bit more freedom. Especially in regard to the five-kilometre limit which has been hard for people and even more so for those who live in rural areas where five kilometres would barely bring you to a patrol station never mind a shop.
The few words we get from the government have not been of assurance either and the best example of that was Leo Varadkar’s comment “The summer should be better”. These types of comments leave you with more questions than answers and leaves us in little doubt as to why NPHET has been left in the lurch recently.
This year has really warped what people believe NPHET is and what they can do, they don’t have control over anything to do with lockdown they can only make recommendations. It’s a different conversation whether they should announce it publicly before the government has made any kind of decision, and this could have added to people’s misinformed opinions about what their role is in this pandemic.
In saying all this, NPHET has been right in all their predictions and recommendations, from opening too quickly last summer to its warning of opening up for Christmas, we could be in a very different place if we had followed the advice for all of this. People have been annoyed at NPHET, claiming that they are too conservative and that the numbers weren’t that high.
You have to look at the opinion polls in the national papers and wonder do people know Fine Gael are still in power and are equally to blame as Fianna Fáil? The last year has been a disaster for the government, and there are people who would happily see them stay in power for longer. It really shows how afraid some people are of change, even if they are in a bad situation like this one.
This lockdown has been nothing more than a sieve and NPHET are not to blame entirely for it, their support for keeping schools open should be criticized, but the government have been slow in putting in place basic barriers like mandatory hotel quarantining for people coming in the country to stop the spread of the virus. The vaccines are our last hope and if they don’t pick it up soon there could be hell to pay.