An almost deserted Washington Street during lockdown. Photo: Provision

51 days later

Yesterday marked a full 50 days since we entered the third lockdown of this seemingly never-ending pandemic.

We’ve spent an awful lot of the last year in lockdowns that sometimes have had no end dates. While the current lockdown is set to run until at least 5 March, on Tuesday the Government gave some updates on what is likely to happen.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Government is working on a revised version of the Living with Covid-19 plan which may be announced in the week of 22 February. He also said it had not yet been determined exactly which parts of the economy will reopen.

He suggested that services such as hairdressing would not re-open on 5 March and that schools remain the priority to be re-opened first.

Speaking on RTÉ's ‘Drivetime’, the Fine Gael leader said that “we're going to see a slow and gradual, conservative and cautious re-opening in the second quarter, across April, May and June”.

Many people have been calling for stricter quarantine rules here, to prevent the spread of coronavirus variants from abroad. This week Leo Varadkar said he hopes legislation on quarantine hotels in Ireland will be published next week.

In the UK this week, the British government have announced harsh new measures for people who travel to the country from coronavirus hotspots - ‘red list’ countries, of which there are 33 currently.

They could face £10,000 fines and jail sentences of up to ten years if they break the rules. Health secretary Matt Hancock said people who travelled to England from list of high-risk countries would have to pay up to £1,750 to quarantine in designated hotels for ten days.

In Scotland they went a step further. The Scottish government said that from Monday, it will require people arriving on all direct international flights to enter quarantine hotels, rather than just those who arrive from ‘red list’ countries.

Will we follow suit eventually? After all, NPHET have consistently advocated mandatory hotel quarantine, which the Government have chosen not to follow. Just over a month ago, we had the highest seven-day rolling average in the EU. On Tuesday, we are in the ten lowest in the EU.

Since late December, we’ve really turned things around and things are continuing to go in the right direction. Hopefully by 5 March, the cases will be far lower again.

On Tuesday Spain registered 766 deaths over 24 hours - the highest daily death toll of their third wave.

We’ve done so well to get the numbers down since 26 December despite the new variants. The Government may want to release a revised version of the Living with Covid-19 plan, but we’re not really living with Covid are we?

We need the Government to match our hard work in reducing the spread of the disease and roll out a better plan to allow us to get back to living again.