When it comes to the daily realities of living with Covid, there’s a big rural/urban divide. Three of our journalists relate their experiences
Slane, Co Meath: A friend works in Dublin's north inner city. In a way, she is on the frontline. She's been texting me since the lockdown began, saying: "It's like Beirut in here."
She says the virus is everywhere in the area. She says she knows the buildings where it's rampant among the inhabitants who live in cramped conditions. She knows of people who won't get tested because they fear deportation. She knows where she can and can't go; she knows who to be wary of when they come into her place of work. There are still days when she is very, very nervous.
Work took me that way 10 days' ago. It was the first time I had been back near our city centre office since it was shut in early March - since when we have all been working from home.
It felt like a different world. It was a different world.
It's not that things haven't changed here. They have. It's just that the all-pervading, all-consuming sense of the virus is no longer lingering in the air, hanging over every thought or action.
I've heard of only one person in our area who contracted Covid-19 - a healthcare worker.
Part of the debate around this crisis appears to have moved to talk of regionalising our exit from lockdown, but it's hard to escape the feeling that the public is a little ahead of the politicians, medics and scientists on this one. There has been a 'soft' exit under way. People heeded the warnings and helped flattened the curve. Now feels like the time to restore some balance.
Those who are worried and vulnerable are minding themselves, or being minded. Those who are not are getting braver or more adventurous or (dare I say it) confident.
People are moving out, exercising, talking to each other across narrow roads and half-empty streets. There are walkers, joggers, cyclists along the various paths by the River Boyne, or in the nearby wood. Mostly keeping their distance.
It's not life as we knew it, but it's a life.
The Curragh plains: Balcony envy drove me to back to nature
For the last few months I have begun to loathe my neighbours.
Living on top of a shiny glass tower in the city centre means you can practically count the pieces of fruit in the kitchen bowl across the street, so nosiness eventually becomes a dull way to pass the time.
But the pandemic has made things different. Now I can see dozens of them out enjoying their balconies for hours on end. And I don’t have that little strip of outdoor heaven. The guy, sitting oiled and sizzling by his barbecue for the past three months, has particularly started to irk me.
Every time I leave the ball-and-chain of my laptop I see him slathering on more sunscreen or getting a cold beer from the fridge. I swear I can almost hear him goad ‘I’m getting €350 a week for this’.
And with the weather getting hotter, it’s enough to make any cooped-up city dweller crack. Since moving here in my late teens I have been a passionate advocate of city life. The convenience of the high street, the best bars only an elevator ride away and a glorious short walk along the river to work.
But now that’s all in deep freeze. I have found myself back at my parents’ door, telling them to fire up the garden grill.
Anyone who says Covid-19 is the great leveller has not moved between city and rural life. In lockdown you need more wide-open space, time lying outdoors in nature and living with fewer people on top of you to feel sane. The scores of people I have seen with backpacks, travelling down the commuter belt tells me that others feel the same.
Will my love affair outside the Pale last? Not on your life. As soon as the economy reopens, I’ll be back on top of the world, just not feeling so hemmed in.
Co Kerry: The Kingdom's Covid-19 approach
Kerry folk living in Dublin are too often accused of cute hoor-ism or gombeen-ism, depending on the nature of an argument or debate.
Ten days ago, I was forced out of my Dublin cocoon to make the long trek home on an essential journey. The attitude meeting me could not have been more different from the strict regime I left behind in the capital.
Some of the homes on the way into Killarney which usually find themselves to let on Airbnb were occupied, a bitter pill for local hoteliers and B&B owners to swallow.
“Most of them are down from up the country,” a woman living nearby remarked of the occupants. “I hope they haven’t brought anything with them.” I didn’t tell her where I had travelled from.
There was a queue at the petrol pumps at a filling station and plenty of Cork registration plates. Maybe some of the locals had crossed the border to buy their cars but it is unlikely they picked up the accompanying Cork accents while there too.
In the bank, a woman was slyly using the socially distanced queues to edge her way in front of people. The same applied in the supermarket, where a woman stood between two checkout queues, hoping to claim she was waiting to be served by the cashier who would be free first. She was only successful in scuppering social distancing efforts in both lines.
I spent four days in the Kingdom and saw little by way of a garda presence. But maybe my Kerry brethren have the right idea. Maybe their lockdown approach is in line with the spread of the virus? Kerry accounts for 3pc of Ireland’s population but only 1pc of the country’s Covid-19 cases.
Between the start of the crisis and May 1, Kerry had recorded 295 cases of Covid-19. This increased by 12 to 307 two weeks later. However, between May 14 and May 27 there was only one extra confirmed case in the county.
Why would you adhere to restrictions that do not appear to have anything to restrict recently? Sure, you’d only be a gombeen.