That strange noise you may have heard on Sunday evening?
That was the sound of an entire nation groaning as they saw the announcement on the news that Nphet had urged the Government to drag the country back into Level 5 lockdown.
It took everyone by surprise, particularly because it followed reports on Thursday that they weren't prepared to escalate anything above Level 3. But the public health officials reviewed the latest available data, changed their minds and urged a return to the total lockdown that eviscerated this country back in March.
The Cabinet was stuck in intense meetings with the Nphet officials yesterday about whether to bring in the draconian set of restrictions. While they resisted the more extreme measures and instead placed the entire country under Level 3 restrictions, we shouldn't feel too relieved.
Even if the politicians have finally shown some leadership for a change, rather than outsourcing their responsibilities to the doctors, we all know, deep down in our hearts, that Level 5 will be reintroduced at some stage - if not today, then next week or next month.
This would be a catastrophe, a calamity and the final coup de grace to an economy that is already on its knees. In fact, talk to many in the hospitality sector and they will privately admit that the current situation is even worse than the crash of a decade ago - and that was the worst financial crisis any of us had ever seen.
If the public health officials got their way, they would send us hurtling six months back in time when we all had to readjust to the new way of living.
But there is a very different mood stalking the land these days. It's one of sullen rancour and growing weariness and increased resentment at the fact that things have simply gone too far.
When we were first placed under de facto house arrest, many of those who called for the toughest of tough restrictions were quick to parrot the mantra of "if it saves one life, it will have been worth it".
That was a nice little platitude to spout at the start, and certainly earned those people some moral brownie points. However, after a few months of harsh reality, all but the most stubborn supporters realised that we had created an unsustainable scenario where we were willingly destroying our own economy.
The inescapable reality, unpalatable though it may be to some, is that the economy is more important than any individual life. It's more important than yours. It's more important than mine.
But even as the sense of social solidarity began to fracture between ordinary citizens who found themselves at odds with each other, the other prevailing mantra of the year - "believe the science!" - was also fraying around the edges as various scientists began to offer wildly different solutions.
Dr Martin Feeley lost his job as clinical director of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group when he called for more perspective in the debate - not that much of a debate has been allowed to take place. The HSE immediately told Dr Feeley that his position was "untenable".
But anyone who read his interview in the Sunday Independent will have seen that he is not some anti-mask, anti-vaxxer crackpot, but rather a medical expert who can see the bigger picture - and the bigger picture terrifies him. As he said in that interview: "If the Spanish flu was sweeping across the country, it would be good to be frightened, it would mean people would mind themselves. But the Spanish flu is not sweeping across the country."
Reflecting on the growing resentment among the public, he also added ominously that: "Unless someone does something, maybe we're looking at anarchy on the streets. Maybe we need a bit of anarchy, almost. I'm that frustrated with it. For God's sake, let people live their lives."
Dr Feeley's frustrations with the increasingly authoritarian demands of some people - deploying the army, arresting peaceful protesters, shutting down off-licences and banning anyone under 30 from buying a drink anywhere - are shared by many, if not most, of us.
His calls for a more rigorous debate have arrived at a vital time. That's because, as we witnessed with the latest anti-mask demonstration in Dublin on Saturday afternoon, the dissenting side of the debate has been hijacked by conspiracy theorists and the kind of people who think that Covid-19 is some weird New World Order plot to enslave us all.
This has given rise to the situation where most normal people are reluctant to air their concerns simply because they don't want to be lumped in with the low-information extremists who seem to make things up as they go along.
But the public has had enough of the mixed and contradictory messages from the Government. They are frustrated at the way previously obscure scientists now seem to hold the reins of power.
Even more pertinently, there is now a nationwide epidemic of Covid fatigue as people demand the right to return to normality as quickly as possible while there is still an economy left to save.
Maybe calmer heads have prevailed for now. But the fact that Level 5 was even back on the agenda shows it's not far from their minds.
We may have dodged the bullet on this occasion. But the gun is still cocked and loaded.
It's an incredibly complex scenario and nobody doubts that the scientists are dong the best they can in terrible circumstances.
But they tend to forget the most important factor in the equation - human nature and a reluctance to put our lives on hold forever.
Also, we must demand that rational, fact-based dissenters be allowed a space in the conversation.