DUBLIN – Ireland is a nation of saints, scholars and the status quo.
This small island in the northwestern outskirts of Europe is ruled by two longstanding enemies: the center-right Republican Fianna Fáil and the Christian democratic Fine Gael, which oppose each other. political divisions since independence in 1922.
Under an agreement reached in June, the leader of Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin, assumed the position of taoiseach, or Prime Minister of Ireland, from the leader of Fine Gael, Leo Varadkar until 2022. This is a Polite game, if not perfect, musical chair to maintain stability during difficult times.
It either formed a minority coalition with 43.1% of the combined votes, or formed a coalition with the leftist Sinn Féin, which won 24.5% of the votes in the general election. in February and begins life as a political arm and / or voice of the Army of the Republic of Ireland, a terrorist organization.
What do all of these have to do with coronavirus? The nation̵7;s legislators, perhaps more than usual, don’t want to upset this fragile balance of power and / or offend the public by making any sudden or erroneous moves when The country struggled because of the economic effects of the pandemic.
Six months after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Ireland, the government finally decided to enforce wearing a veil in stores. As of Monday, people risk a fine of up to € 2,500 ($ 2,947) or six months in prison. Before that, the government also only gave one advice.
Schools will also reopen in September. The government has recommended that all teachers and high school students wear face masks when they cannot maintain a distance of 2 meters. However, that remains more of an advice than an enforcement measure.
Martin said during a news conference at Dublin Castle about the new store policy: “As we have seen with masking on public transport and many other requests have been made from citizens in Pandemic: When people are given a clear direction they follow it ”.
More information about the pandemic: If every American started wearing a mask today, this is how many lives could be saved
‘High degree of compliance’
Martin’s comment may suggest that his previous “advice” was Not one clear direction and everyone did Not follow it. However, Helen McEntee, attorney general, praised everyone for his “very large level of compliance”. But that depends on the store you’re visiting and how you define “giant”.
In June, the Irish government recommended that people wear masks in stores. If you want to wear a mask? Become our guest. Knock yourself out. Helps prevent the spread of coronavirus and protects the health of store salespeople, but they may also not wear a mask.
And if you don’t want to wear a mask? OK. You risk getting a disgruntled masked shopper who – depending on your point of view – is suffering from “rage” or simply trying to get people to work as a team for us. overcomes this without a spike in new cases.
And life in Ireland went on. In fact, it will be difficult to realize that there is – or exists – a potentially lethal virus emerging. If you listen carefully, you might even hear music from one or two home parties. Few people wear masks on the street. Some work in stores, but not all.
Even when there is a “high degree of compliance”, it doesn’t take into account the costs people pay for someone else’s noncompliance. Face masks are mainly used to prevent someone who wears asymptomatic or has symptoms before accidentally spreading the virus.
As Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for three decades and an infectious disease specialist for four decades, told this reporter in an interview last month. , “If half the people don’t do that, it removes the overall purpose. “
Additional information about the pandemic:Why do some people with coronavirus have no symptoms – and what makes them so contagious?
‘Are you not wearing a mask?’
Elizabeth O’Connor, a 40-year-old housewife in Dublin, said: “It should have been a must in the first place, life could be saved. “I think a lot of people have COVID without knowing it and could have spread it to others when they weren’t wearing a mask.”
“A seemingly high percentage among our teenagers, our 20s and 30s who think they are bulletproof and out of their behavior and are of less concern to those who are more vulnerable in people in our society can get COVID with serious consequences, ”she said.
Masking advice has led to awkwardness, including this little vignette outside a pharmacy in Donnybrook, a buzzing and leafy Dublin suburb. An agitated elderly woman wearing a mask asked a middle-aged father with his young daughter (neither of them wore them): “Aren’t you wearing a mask?”
Unless he was performing some sort of black magic, it was 100% clear that this man Not masked, and he was not pleased when asked about his choice not to wear. “I forgot,” he replied without looking into his eyes. The conversation doesn’t end there.
‘It should have been obligatory in the first place, could have saved lives. ”
Three minutes later, he is still regal with the anecdote about people not wearing masks in the supermarket, and how damned they are for not doing so. “I can’t believe some people!” woman said from behind her mask. (If he’s reading this, by ‘some’, she is talking about you.)
Johns Hopkins University ranks Ireland 15th in the world in the list of COVID-related deaths per capita: 36.5 per 100,000 with a mortality rate of 6.7%. By comparison, the United States is ranked 12th with a death rate of 49.6 per 100,000 and a case mortality rate of 3.2%.
On Sunday night, the government said there had been 1,772 COVID-related deaths in Ireland, with 68 additional cases confirmed, bringing the total number here to at least 26,712. That, like all such signs, does not account for most cases without symptoms.
Ireland has also recorded one of the highest COVID-related nursing home mortality rates in the world, according to a report published in June. About 62% of viral deaths occur in nursing homes, a proportion just exceeding COVID-related nursing home deaths in Canada.
Additional information about the pandemic:Fauci tells Americans to be mindful of these important limitations for any future coronavirus vaccine.
‘There will never be so many people asking so many’
And it all seems to be starting off well. Varadkar, the former professor, issued a fiery arms appeal on March 17th. “There will never be so many people asking for so much,” he said in a televised speech, apparently pay homage to the speech of the wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
To help arouse the public’s patriotism, Varadkar used March 17 to get Irish people to stay home. March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, a national holiday commemorating the country’s patron saint who, according to legend, drove all snakes out of Ireland around the 5th century.
St. Patrick, a Christian missionary, was being locked at the time. He was fasting for 40 days when he was attacked by a snake. Because the accused was so rude, he chased them into the sea. (Of course it’s a disguise. Snakes have never lived on this island.)
Back in the summer of 2020: Varadkar chose Not to introduce nationwide closings until March 27. People are allowed to leave their homes to go to groceries and exercise within 2 kilometers of their homes, and Irish people – famously always playing by the rules – mostly complied.
Why was there a 10-day delay between the March 17 speech and the closing? That could also be the reason why it took six months to put in place a mandatory masking policy: Political fluctuations. Skilful politicians quickly grabbed the heat of the public, and are notoriously reluctant to sail the proverbial boat.
But flattening the curve of new cases doesn’t mean you’ve beaten the virus. Ireland, currently in Phase 3 of the country’s reopening process, last Saturday imposed travel restrictions in Kildare, Offaly and Laois, the country’s three central counties, due to the increase cases there.
‘This will be a blow to pub owners’
Lessons from all these reluctant actions? Listen to scientists – not politicians. COVID-19 is highly contagious. That’s why nearly 20 million people worldwide have had a positive test result, a number that doesn’t take into account the number of people with previous symptoms or no symptoms.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York’s Democratic Party, once the epicenter of the virus in the US, put power in the hands of business owners by issuing an executive order last month 5 to allow businesses to refuse to accept anyone not wearing a mask.
New Yorkers – like St. Patrick – looked at the monster’s belly, and recalled how terrifying it is now tend to yield to each other on the streets and, yes, stand six feet apart in the supermarket . Even in Central Park, most of the people walking around were wearing masks.
To be fair, the Irish government has made bolder decisions: In his speech to announce the mandatory mask policy, Martin said pubs, bars, guest bars Hotel and nightclub will remain closed. “I knew this would deal a blow to pub owners,” he said.
Irish food pubs – less than half of them – are currently only open to waiters: No people standing in line at the bar or socializing away from your table. You must book in advance, eat and drink, and leave after exactly one-three-fourths.
Martin’s late implementation of the mask is, for this Irish New Yorker, welcome. The Irish men and women Irish men and women – waking up on a Monday with another rule. The woman wearing a mysterious mask outside the pharmacy in Donnybrook should be very pleased.
Martin, meanwhile, raised the spirit of St. Patrick’s mission to defeat snakes in his recent speech on the dangers of coroanvirus. “It’s as toxic as ever,” he said and added, “How dangerous is it, we’ve shown we can beat it. Each of us has the power to suppress it.
This essay is part of the MarketWatch series, ‘Dispatches from pandemic.’