Mícheál Martin announced last night that “strict” restrictions will be extended for 9 more weeks. His government’s decision to lift restrictions for 3 weeks in the lead-up to Christmas has resulted in a 4 month lockdown.
Meanwhile, the government continues to insist that a Zero Covid strategy is impossible. But is this lockdown really strict, as Martin claims?
Many non-essential workplaces continue to operate. Traffic congestion is high. Meat plants remain unsafe and continue to drive outbreaks. Case numbers have fallen significantly in many counties, but the R rate in Dublin now is around 1 – meaning case numbers are barely reducing, if at all.
A 9 week extension of a half-hearted lockdown will only fatigue people even more and make it less likely that they will follow restrictions. The situation is therefore extremely dangerous.
Moreover, if the government were to implement the necessary measures, the elimination of community transmission could certainly be possible within 9 weeks.
This would require the closure of all non-essential work with sanctions for employers who put employees’ health at risk, mandatory quarantine for all incoming travellers, serial testing of frontline workers, and using testing and tracing systems to aggressively chase out the virus.
The deadly mixture of incompetence, stubbornness and deference to business interests continues. People have had enough. It is time for a genuine Zero Covid strategy.