The Dáil is closed, the chamber locked, with many politicians fled to the hills. But there are still major issues that will have to be addressed in the traditional political holidays.
The Government remains in place and the Cabinet will meet a little longer, but as things stand there remains the likelihood of a substantial political vacuum, even if those in power are staycationing. And problems ignored have a habit of getting worse.
Here are six of the most pressing:
Taoiseach Micheál Martin acknowledged that it's an evolving situation, which rather points to the need to be able to adapt. Ireland's infection rates had ebbed significantly after lockdown, but the number of Covid cases in the past two days should give us pause. It could well be that Ireland is about to see new spikes, like many countries on the Continent that were ahead of us in the first wave and acted as barometers for what Ireland might expect.
Already 2,319 people have lost their lives on the island of Ireland, with nearly 27,000 cases in the Republic. If evidence of clusters emerges, then local lockdowns will be in order - but it will take the bully pulpit of the Taoiseach's office and a hard-working Health Minister for people to see the need to comply. The Government cannot afford the perception of there being one rule for them and another for the rest of us, as they swim, sunbathe and otherwise disport themselves, while large numbers of citizens are expected to remain indoors.
2) Reopening the schools
The problems here are legion, and there are likely some that have not even begun to show their true dimensions yet. Are there enough vehicles for school transport? Can all pupils be accommodated in such buses? Won't they then be in too close proximity, given emerging medical evidence that children as young as five may be as capable as adults of spreading the virus, putting the whole community at risk if this is so. Can break-time in the yard really be policed so that children don't play tag? And that's without such practical considerations as insurance, Garda vetting of extra teachers (if rushed, then not thorough enough; if thorough, then queues of teachers unable to work), and the ability or availability of builders to carry out the minor works required.
Publicans, pub workers, home holidaymakers and all local communities want to see their premises opened. It's currently scheduled for August 10, but the Government is refusing to guarantee that date, having postponed it once already. Owners want clarity due to the preparation involved, whereas the Government does not want to be blindsided by late-changing Covid data and public health advice. Opening the pubs and then closing them again is the kind of bungling from which an already shaky government might never recover. But the threat is of packed pubs hot-housing the virus all over again.
4) The economy
Everything is interlinked in a fine economic web. People want to spend money, many businesses are crying out for the lifeblood of cash flow, and yet whole sectors - taxis, theatres, restaurants, live music… the list goes on - are bound over hand and foot to the virus. Reopening grants of €4,000 per outlet have to be administered, the VAT cut overseen, wages and welfare closely watched. The Government has to help ease people off the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and back into work, and it must ensure the right conditions are created - if only so that a beating economy can pump some taxes back into government coffers. Vigilance is required with Budget 2021 just around the corner.
It hasn't gone away, you know, and it's hurtling here fast. Michelle O'Neill, the North's Deputy First Minister, warned the Taoiseach yesterday that there are just four months to go. Right now, Britain is on course to crash out and is showing no signs of waking up to the gravity of that outcome and the economic calamity it would wreak - particularly in Ireland, where so many jobs are contingent on continuing hassle-free trade with our near neighbour.
Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has been warned that it still has the potential to put the economic havoc wreaked by Covid-19 in the shade, with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier sounding the alarm that we are as far away from a free trade agreement as ever.
Housing is still this government's Achilles heel, with the sense that it has been punted into the long grass but must inevitably come back with a vengeance. Homelessness and the need to end direct provision are factors, just as much as the shortage of properties to buy or rent. Company failures or the laying off of staff will mean thousands more who cannot afford to keep a roof over their heads. When the Government dithered on extending the evictions ban, there were landlords and investment funds issuing notices to quit with abandon.
This problem is only postponed, and a solution seems nowhere to be found. Government inactivity in August could embolden property- owning individuals and powerful interests alike.