WITH more Covid-19 pandemic restrictions being removed or relaxed with effect from this Monday, June 29th, we enter a crucial phase in keeping the virus suppressed and people’s behaviour – for good or ill – will play a key role in this. As hotels, restaurants, pubs serving food and hairdressers are allowed to re-open, church services resuming, indoor gatherings of up to 50 people (suitably socially-distanced) being permitted and, with the return to team sports activities already under way, it does not mean free rein for everybody to do whatever they want as in the pre-pandemic days.
It is vital that people embrace the ‘new normal’ and that includes observing all the protocols laid down for the various sectors. The most difficult one for a lot of people will be socialising and, while pre-booking a table in a hotel, pub or restaurant in order to have a meal and a few drinks crammed into a time frame of 105 minutes may seem not enough, it is better than nothing.
Gatherings of up to 50 people indoors and 200 outdoors from next week will still involve social distancing and the two-metre recommendation for this still exists, except in cases where it is not possible and then people are urged to wear face coverings – especially on public transport and in retail outlets – but it is not mandatory.
Therefore, one should use some common sense in judging how to react to situations where either the numbers limits are being exceeded or proper social distancing is not being observed, and the best advice is to get away from them. The Revised Roadmap for Reopening Ireland advises that ‘Limiting our social interactions is crucial to preventing the spread of the virus. We must continue to act responsibly and work together.’
Some people will, understandably, still be reluctant to venture out too far and maybe baby steps is a good strategy in this regard, especially when it comes to people over 70 and the medically-vulnerable. After all, the coronavirus is still out there and needs to be feared and respected by all age groups.
Spare a thought for employees of businesses re-opening next week, as they join the frontline workers, and abide patiently by directions given as they are in the interests of everybody’s health and safety. Frequent hand washing, along with respiratory etiquette and adequate social distancing must continue indefinitely.