Though the Fine Gael-led Government seems determined to speed up the country’s transition through the various stages of the lockdown exit plan, spurred on by backbench TDanna and newspapers lobbying against the continued restrictions on behalf of various business interests, the push to prematurely end the pandemic controls implemented back in March is meeting its own criticism. While much of the established press is presenting the rapid easing of regulations as simply a recognition of reality in the face of increased rule-breaking by the general public some of that presentation may be an example of journalists reporting by proxy on their own frustrations and ideological disagreements with the regulations. A degree of “lockdown-scepticism” has shaped the opinions of a cadre of hard-right newspaper columnists since the start of the coronavirus crisis, with arguments not too dissimilar from those being aired by various fringe protesters on YouTube or in the Four Courts (minus the 5G and chemtrails conspiracy theories). Quite frankly there are more than a handful of people working in the Irish news media who place considerable more value on certain “jobs” than certain “lives”, and consider the sacrifice of the latter as a fair trade-off for the benefit of the former.
While we undoubtedly have to move from the last few months of lockdown to a more open society again such an exit can only take place in the context of a comprehensive, multi-agency system to manage the easing of restrictions and to manage a nation that is going to be living with the presence of the Covid-19 virus for many months – or years – to come. And there is little evidence that Leo Varadkar’s caretaker Government has put such a system in place. Which in a post-lockdown world makes us more like the UK and the US than South Korea or New Zealand and with the possibility, like the former two, of worse to come.