WITH the Irish vaccination programme gathering speed so, too, will the re-opening of the economy in the coming weeks.
This will most likely see a huge number of visitors flocking to West Cork this summer. The signs of optimism are already there – with hotels, bars and restaurants beginning their summer recruitment campaigns, and the ‘open for business’ signs getting dusted off.
The past weekend, with busy beaches, some traffic issues, and queues forming at a number of food outlets, gave some indication of what we can expect for June, July and August in the region.
Families can finally make plans for holidays, and accommodation owners know this season cannot start soon enough.
Several rental companies and landlords with self-catering options are already announcing they are ‘fully booked’ for at least two months of the summer.
And anyone who has managed to secure a holiday home booking in West Cork in the past week feels like they have found Willy Wonka’s ‘golden ticket’.
But with all the optimism and hope comes a warning – we must not forget the virus is still with us.
It has not gone away – in fact, the more recent strains are more virulent and we still don’t have all the evidence on what level of protection certain vaccines offer against certain strains.
For this reason, we must remain vigilant. Our safest weapon is still distance from each other. And, after that, washing our hands!
Over the next few months we will be welcoming relations, friends and other visitors to our towns, villages and maybe even our homes.
We cannot easily forget the damage done by the virus after the easing of restrictions last Christmas. And while the vaccine, better weather and a memory of that episode will leave us in good stead this time around, we must also remember that a sudden surge in numbers being infected could put us back into a very dark place.
So, let us all enjoy the summer, but safely. Let us welcome those friends, family and guests, but not forget to keep our distance. We can enjoy long walks, sport, visits to other counties, and eating together again, outdoors. But we must do it safely.
Let us never forget we still have some way to go before we are ‘back to normal’.