Even though some shops and businesses have started to reopen as we go further into the relaxing of the lockdown, economic worries abound. How do we ensure that we return to something close to normality and save the summer? In short, how do we become like New Zealand, where most things are back to normal. No need for two-metre social distance, no need for masks, and 107 gigs in Auckland this weekend. How soon can we get to be like that?
It's actually simple in principle. We must eliminate this virus, which means zero cases over a two-week period.
Last week, I was a co-signatory on a letter signed by more than 1,000 other people from a range of sectors and the general public - not just scientists and healthcare workers - which pushed for an aggressive and cautious approach when it comes to Covid-19 at this stage of the pandemic.
The lead academic signatories were epidemiologist Adrian Staines, infectious diseases expert Gerard Killeen and neuroscientist Tomas Ryan. They were, of course, immediately accused of groupthink and insensitivity to the needs of people living in the real world, unlike them in their fancy jobs with fancy titles and, as one critic put it, "growing fame", with no threat of economic ruin.
These criticisms missed the point entirely. They, and the rest of us, were just doing our job. If we weren't, we'd be accused of slacking off in the summer when there are no students around.
Michael McDowell, writing in The Irish Times after the letter was published, told the scientists to be "humble in confessing the limitations of our understanding". Thanks Michael, oh humble one. Scientists live with uncertainty and use evidence to draw conclusions, given the evidence at hand. We admit there is no perfect evidence when it comes to most Covid-19 matters.
Michael seemed to speculate on resistance to infection being widespread. Hard to know as he's not an immunologist. This is a dangerous notion, and there is no evidence to support it. It would be great if it were true, but we must proceed as if it's not, otherwise there will be further major outbreaks of Covid-19.
That is the consensus view. There may be some with a different opinion, but remember, all you need is one climate-change denier to skew the debate away from climate change to the detriment of the planet.
The OECD (another bunch of eggheads?) stated last week that a second wave of Covid-19 will wipe out any chance of economic recovery in Ireland, either this year or next.
It warned that the economy will contract by 8.7pc this year with no sign of recovery in 2021 if an outbreak reoccurs. This means economic collapse for our country. That's how high the stakes are.
The critics of the scientists and others who signed the letter actually missed the purpose of the letter entirely. It is to bring back the economy in as successful a way as possible, while at the same time protecting people from Covid-19. This can actually be achieved in a matter of weeks, maybe as few as six weeks. What's needed is as aggressive a targeted testing / tracing / isolating operation as possible, in combination with mask-wearing and stringent social distancing. No need for a hard lockdown as before.
There was dismay for many people last week when there was still equivocation on the mask issue by the Taoiseach and some members of Nphet.
Rumour has it that Nphet had three separate votes on the mask issue over recent weeks. Votes! The scientific leadership on the issue had to have failed if it had to go to a vote three times. This is completely unacceptable at this stage of the crisis, given the growing strength of the evidence for cloth masks in crowded places (mainly supermarkets and public transport) over the last two months or so.
It seems the Taoiseach and his advisers aren't keeping up with the science, although things are changing. It might be difficult to make mask-wearing mandatory in Ireland, but it would certainly make sense to make it a condition of travel on public transport, as is happening in the much-maligned UK. Clear guidelines on what masks to wear and how to wear them would also help.
A significant issue when it comes to restoring the economy is not so much getting businesses back, as the reluctance of people to come back out again to engage in economically important activities. A reasonable percentage of people are still likely to be wary for some time. To win back public confidence, we need to be able to show them that the virus has been all but eliminated.
We also need to show that we have all the measures in place to protect them from infection. Just because the shop is open doesn't mean they will come.
Limping through the summer with lacklustre revenues is no solution either. What's the point in moving to one-metre distancing indoors if the public doesn't come with you in that decision?
There will be no breakfast buffets in hotels, no saunas or steam rooms. It doesn't have to be that way if we eliminate the virus.
Time is therefore of the essence. Go hard at this for six weeks and from August we'll join New Zealand. Pubs and restaurant open. Gigs, concerts - big and small - and sporting events could go ahead. No masks, no worries about two-metre distancing, and maybe even a holiday overseas in places that are like us if we eliminate the virus, which at this stage include Greece, Iceland, Norway and the Canary Islands.
And indeed, tourists from those countries will want to come here because they will feel safe. Few tourists will want to go to London, even if it opens for business.
If we don't act aggressively now, there's a slim chance that the number of infections will be low in the coming months; from what we're learning from countries like Iran and Israel, an increase in cases is all too possible.
This is not a battle of 'I told you so'. The case numbers are, however, unlikely to be as high as before because of the measures we adopted ahead of lockdown - which are still needed - but they might be high enough to worry doctors and destroy consumer confidence.
If we don't move towards elimination, we may well be ostracised by other countries in terms of travel. If we eliminate the virus, our concern will then be people coming in from outside to seed the virus in our country again. To stop that, we need a rapid testing system at airports and ports, followed by quarantine for those testing positive. This can be done to maintain trade links.
The choice is therefore simple. Lance the boil now with harsh measures over the next few weeks, leading to full recovery. Or leave it to fester, which might mean a lot more pain and suffering later.
One thing is for sure: if we continue on as we are, keep in mind what Dirty Harry said: "Feeling lucky, punk?"
Luke O'Neill is professor of biochemistry in the School of Biochemistry and Immunology at Trinity College Dublin.