Irish people don’t mind a pandemic really, as long as there’s someone to blame. So the Covid is back because people aren’t using the hand sanitiser, Joe. And the pubs aren’t checking the Covid certs. And a fellah stood near me in the pub talking and drinking his pint. And there was a woman in the supermarket the other day not wearing her mask properly. Sure it’s no wonder the Covid is back. Everyone else — except you and me — was getting too casual about it. Stephen Donnelly even blamed the Brits!
Nowadays, we have this romantic notion about the pandemic times that we were all in it together. And we were, to a point. But it was also a time of shame and blame, when people lost their jobs for going on holidays and WhatsApp groups all over the country were tracking the movements of local schoolchildren and their families.
There was plenty blame to go around. While it’s hard to believe now, in a time when we are all concerned that the poor college students have nowhere to live and not enough to eat, there was even a time when we blamed everything on students gathering to drink outdoors. Them and Dubliners with holiday homes.
This time, just as everyone realised the Covid was back, the authorities helpfully released exact figures for how many people haven’t been vaccinated. This allowed everyone to start talking about this small minority of people who are “holding us all back”. The Sheeple Who Get Up Early in The Morning and obediently get their jabs were turning on the People Who Do Their Own Research On The Internet. It’s presumably only a matter of time before we see incidents of vaxxed-on-unvaxxed violence, or vice versa.
This led to a related row about vaccine passports, with most people, even the pubs, seemingly agreeing that we should retain them, thereby banishing the unvaxxed from the indoor scene just as the weather is turning. That’ll teach them not to roll up their sleeves for Ireland.
Mostly, we were all weary. We’ve done the homeschooling, the baking and jogging, the walking with takeaway coffee, the saying goodbye to loved ones via FaceTime, the not having a job for months on end. We did it once, and we are pleased with ourselves for having got through it once with a certain amount of good grace.
But we’re not going back.
We were all vaguely aware that we’ve had much higher case numbers than most of Europe despite being the most vaccinated little country around. But we put our fingers in our ears and told ourselves that we are just more conscientious than the foreigners about testing everyone with a sniffle.
But, as case numbers kept hitting the 2,000s we couldn’t ignore it anymore. And then, like time travel, Professor Philip Nolan was back on the radio explaining the trends, and the Deputy CMO was changing government policy on working from home with Twitter videos.
And the worst bit? Apparently Dr Tony is back from leave on Monday. Uh-oh. Maybe they should think of booking Leo for Claire Byrne on Monday night?