The Government and its advisory authorities have acted wisely in bringing forward agreed measures to ease restrictions which were imposed several months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, decisions which will come as a great relief to the business community and wider public.
The tourism and hospitality sector, in particular, will welcome the development, coming as the country is about to enter the height of the trading season. Now that sector will get an opportunity to minimise the severe impact the lockdown has had and begin to trade its way out of difficulties.
The announcement coincides with admittedly poor, although somewhat better than expected, exchequer returns published last week. So while the country is not yet out of the woods, there is a sense that all is not lost and such positive sentiment is to be welcomed and cherished.
The public has embraced the challenge of the Covid-19 crisis with great determination and forbearance and it was this response, first and foremost, which allowed some of the restrictions to be lifted and others to be brought forward ahead of schedule.
While the health and scientific authorities remain understandably anxious about the continued spread of the virus, there is every reason to believe people will remain sensible in their behaviours and alert to the dangers still posed. There will probably be a short-lived spell of exuberance as the restrictions continue to be lifted this month and next - and celebration is no bad thing either - but the message of the threat of the virus has been conveyed loud and clear and the continued co-operation of the public can hopefully be relied upon.
In the medium-to-longer term, the economic effects of Covid-19 is expected to impact sharply. That message has not been lost on the public either. By and large, people can be expected to be understanding of measures which follow in due course to contend with the massive financial consequences of the fight against the virus, as long as such measures are introduced in a fair and equitable manner for the benefit of society as a whole. That is for another day, however. In government formation talks, the view is that measures to reduce the budget deficit will not be imposed for another two to three years. Before the country closed down, the economy was in reasonably good shape. That will now stand to us as we begin the difficult task of rebuilding the country. It is right that the business community be given every opportunity, with supports where appropriate, to trade its way out of this difficult period and begin to reduce the burden of massive, hopefully short-term, unemployment numbers.
Undoubtedly much will have changed as a result of this period, not least in trading conditions and the manner in and the medium on which business is conducted. Relevant supports should also be made available to allow businesses to complete the process of transition to what is widely anticipated to be a challenging new economy.
Today we are at the beginning of the end, but also at the start of a potentially exciting and bright new future. Tomorrow we take a first step on that road. The walk must be embraced with vigorous enthusiasm as the country learns to live with the coronavirus.