There’s a certain element of inevitability about the uncertainty at this stage.
The one thing you can be sure of is that nothing is for certain when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Goals are set and missed. Targets come and go. The light at the end of the tunnel shines briefly before fading into the distance.
There is no point in blaming anyone for the reopening plans, although, the opposition try their best to do so. The Government is resigned to the reality that the virus will always make muck of their best-laid plans.
As Joe Pesci, playing Mafia boss Russell Bufalino, says in the Martin Scorsese epic The Irishman: “It’s what it is.”
Naturally, the Government wants the country to reopen as quickly as possible with the fewest number of people getting sick and dying in the process. Nphet and the HSE would like a healthcare system that doesn’t creak at the seams every time a few dozen people are admitted to intensive care units.
But there is an acceptance, right or wrong, that all you can do with Covid is wait and see how it is going to react to your latest set of well-thought-out plans.
The Government couldn’t be happier with how the summer went. Restrictions were being dumped once a month with Nphet’s permission.
The public took to the vaccines in record-breaking numbers. People lined the streets to be jabbed in the arm with brand new medicines.
More than 90pc of the adult population are now vaccinated. We are still working on the under-16s.There’s a few stragglers and conspiracy theorists.
But in the main we were the envy of Europe and citizens gave themselves a well-deserved pat on the back for weathering the lockdowns and buying into the Government’s vaccine plan.
Then all of a sudden it was deja-vu all over again.
October 22 was the date. The big date. The end of the line or at least the starting line for the end of the line.
But over a couple of weeks as we mingled among ourselves and went to work the case numbers crept back up. Yesterday, 2,399 new Covid-19 cases were recorded, which is the highest number since January 21. We don’t need reminding of the level of devastation the country was experiencing back then.
Thankfully, things are better now and there will be fewer deaths due to the vaccines.
But the high level of new cases is still puzzling. The experts say we have dropped our guard and we are socialising with little regard for the virus circulating around us.
The Brits are blamed too. Boris Johnson ditched all restrictions months ago and vaccination levels are nowhere near as high as in Ireland.
They are our nearest neighbours so there are a lot of people moving back and forth which may be leading to the spike in cases here.
The weather even gets blamed since new case numbers are lower, even though they have fewer people vaccinated, in other more southern European countries.
No one really knows for sure yet. The Taoiseach called it “speculative reasoning” and the Cabinet is frustrated with the rise in cases after the public did everything they were asked.
The decision to delay the final reopening was taken with a heavy heart but also with the memories of last Christmas still in their minds.
It’s worth pointing out we didn’t go backwards. Restrictions were eased in a number of areas.
From Friday, weddings and other religious ceremonies no longer have caps on how many people can attend.
Pub opening hours will return to normal and a plan to reopen nightclubs is being developed. Sports stadiums will also be full again.
October 22 will not be the Freedom Day we were promised, but things changed and the advice on dealing with the rise in cases changed.
Nphet seems to have become more politically savvy since the country began to reopen and made recommendations to Government that leave space for the Taoiseach and his ministers to make political decisions.
For example, yesterday’s advice said people can return to work on a “phased and cautious” basis but added that those who can work from home should.
This is essentially two conflicting pieces of advice but gives the Government cover to allow things to progress as planned while including Nphet’s actual advice.
Nphet has also, notably, finally come around to antigen tests being used to screen people for Covid in certain settings. However, it did throw in a warning about restrictions being reimposed if the public don’t play ball.
You’ll also be showing your Digital Covid Certificate to eat and drink indoors. It’ll be a cold winter for the unvaccinated.
But for the most part the return to normality is progressing, just slower than expected.