Last week, more than 1,000 people signed a letter advocating continued shutdown. The group, led by medical professionals, believes elimination of the coronavirus is a better strategy than trying to contain it as the country carefully and gradually opens up.
They may end up being correct. But that is unlikely.
Hermetically sealing the island of Ireland indefinitely would be a very tall order, even if both jurisdictions agreed to cutting all travel with the rest of the world, including from Britain. There is always the chance the virus would get through anyway, causing another spike in infection. That would render the whole effort fruitless.
There are other problems with the proposal. One of its leading advocates, Professor Gerry Killeen of University College Cork, says a second wave of the virus is guaranteed. Beware of experts claiming certainty when it doesn't exist.
There is clearly a wide range of views on the likelihood of a second wave among medical experts. Just last Friday, Tony Holohan, the country's chief medical officer, was upbeat on the prospects of avoiding that dreaded scenario.
The 1,000-plus signatories of the crush-the-curve letter sounded certain on other matters, too. "Societies that have suppressed and eliminated this pandemic will (my emphasis) enjoy considerably greater freedoms and prosperity than those where the virus persists."
Those who advocate 'crushing the curve' could prove to be correct from a health perspective. But they are on even shakier ground in their analysis of the economic impact. Australia, which has not had a recession in almost 30 years, is experiencing a severe economic contraction even though it has all but extinguished the virus by sealing its borders.
Some of the crush-the-curve proponents have elsewhere claimed the worst outcome for the economy would be to reopen only to have to lock down again in the future. This is wrong because it is based on a misunderstanding of how economies function.
The greatest economic cost of the pandemic is not the amounts spent on tackling it, but the wealth creation that has not happened over the past three months because of it. To understand this, the best parallel may be with farming.
The drought over the past few months has meant crop yields for many farmers will be significantly down on previous years. Plant growth that did not take place owing to lack of rain will not be recouped. It has been lost forever.
But that does not mean farmers don't want rain. More precipitation now would be better than none. It would ultimately be better for yields to have rain now and a return to drought, than one long drought until the end of the growing season.
For the wider economy, opening temporarily would allow more wealth to be created. Nobody wants another spike in the virus, but forgoing more economic activity when so much has already been lost will have massive implications for the survival of many businesses and jobs. It also increases the risk Government will run out of money at some point in the future. That would have enormous implications for public health, among many other things.
The scale of the economic hit the entire world is taking was highlighted last week by new economic forecasts from the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. It set out two scenarios for the global economy: one based on the assumption of a second wave, the other based on the virus being subdued, as is the current trajectory in many countries.
Naturally, the scenario involving a second wave of pandemic and the reimposition of some economic lockdown measures, was grimmer. But not by much. The OECD believes the world economy will shrink by 6pc this year if all goes to plan with pandemic. If, however, there is a second outbreak, the think tank believes the contraction will be 7.6pc. It also believes that the world's unemployment rate will be 10pc in the latter scenario and 9.2pc in the former. You don't have to be an economist to see the two scenarios are not radically different.
Nor do you have to be a dismalist to see how bad things are likely to get. The OECD contractions pencilled in for the world economy, and many of its national ones, are unprecedented.
Even in 2009, the worst year of the Great Recession, the global economy did not contract as developing countries' expansions offset the contractions suffered by the rich countries at the epicentre of that slump.
As with the course of the coronavirus itself, there is great uncertainty around the economic consequences: how deep the incipient recession will be and when it will end are questions nobody can claim they have reliable answers to.
Unlike some in the medical profession, who feel very sure in their predictions, there is not an economist on the planet who would bet much money on their own forecasts these days. The best one can hope for is that the worst of both the disease and the economic contraction it has caused might just have already passed.
Last week's column looked at how the Irish economy has fared relative to others during the pandemic. Some indicators pointed to a worse-than-average slump, while others pointed to the Republic doing comparatively well. Happily, last week brought more evidence to support the rosier view.
Although modern European economies are now mostly services oriented, manufacturing still matters. Thanks largely to a huge multinational sector which exports it wares around the world, manufacturing matters more for Ireland than most other developed countries.
Last week saw EU-wide figures on how much factories produced in April, the month during which the lockdown was most extreme in most countries. Across the continent, the hum of industry quietened in a manner never seen before, and industrial output fell back to levels last seen in the mid-1990s. Every EU country recorded annual contractions, mostly massive ones. There was one exception: Ireland.
While the hardest hit countries saw manufacturing contract by more than 40pc compared with April 2019, widget-makers in Ireland expanded their production by 5pc. This is explained by industry here being dominated by the pharmaceutical, chemical and medical devices sectors - more than half of everything that is made in the country (including food products) is accounted for by these sectors. They are certain to provide an engine for economic recovery in the months and years to come, just as it did after the 2008 crash.
Anyone who believes that the foreign multinationals have only a Potemkin presence in Ireland is not familiar with what tens of thousands of people who work in the sector do every day.