"We're all in this together…" Perhaps the single biggest lie drummed into us since March 2020 and should be played on a 'phrases prohibited to be spoken ever again' list.
We are anything but in this together, In fact, this crisis has only served to divide us even further than we were pre-lockdown. We have also seen how some are able to enjoy greater freedoms than others or at the very least circumstances which were less impactful than others. This article isn’t trying to suggest some had it better than others, lockdown did come with hindrances for all. But this article highlights anomalies of some and demonstrates that long-term lockdown creates more problems than solutions.
The most crucial divide is yet to come… "The Vaccine Divide"; A world where front line workers, the elderly and a privileged few who jump the line are vaccinated and ready for the new tiered society of who is and who isn’t vaccinated. At present those who have completed vaccinations can meet another household indoors; the start of the normality for a select few. This Vaccine Credit is only going to grow, while the absolute majority of people twiddle their thumbs waiting for rollout to come their way. Just at the start of the month the Taoiseach promised 80% of the population vaccinated by June… but how many times have the dates been pushed out on Vaccine roll out? And I don’t have any faith in our government to meet this target either.
But more frustratingly is listening to Teachers threaten strike action unless they receive a vaccine by the end of the current school year (in other words just in time for the summer holidays so they can head off to Tenerife, Greece or wherever) Now I'm not saying teachers are undeserving of priority for vaccine roll out however all front line workers equally are at great risk of exposure particularly shop workers who have significantly less control over who they come in contact with. It's not right to duress the government into prioritising roll out ahead of everyone else particularly when the circumstances around the vaccine are changing... This is regarding the fact that the vaccine is no longer just about mitigating the risk of the virus, it is also a distinguisher of freedoms between those with and without a vaccine. Therefore if freedom is conditional upon receipt of a vaccine then everyone should be entitled to access to the vaccine at the same time or at the very least vaccine credits should be placed on hold until everyone has had a chance to have the jab or at least opportunity to refuse it.
Then there is a lockdown divide. For example, during the pre-Christmas lockdown certain exceptions were made to certain groups. The GAA had an exception to training back in Autumn. If you were a GAA player you could head off to training in the evenings playing a contact sport with several others while your non GAA peers would be breaking the law if they attempted to go for a solo walk 5KM outside their home. Non-Contact sports like Golf, cycling or hiking wasn’t given the same exception! The GAA would talk about how they would maintain distancing, but were you watching the All-Ireland Finals. The end of the game during the speeches was disgraceful.
"Our thoughts that are obviously with those who suffered hard times this year and loss of loved ones and those who worked so hard to keep us all safe and well!"
The words from the Captain of the winning Dublin ladies team while her teams mates watched on, hugging and kissing each other while congregating way less than 2 meters apart. The Men's All Ireland was no better. Although there were no exceptions for the GAA in the post-Christmas lockdown, some clubs were exposed recently with photos and videos breaking government restrictions (And the GAA's own policies) to run training sessions. The Irish Independent first broke the story of a Dublin club while another club in Monaghan has since been exposed. The Irish Times reports on sanctions here.
Then politicians the very people calling on us all to 'Double Down' don’t seem to practice what they preach. We had Golf Gate, Funerals, and even recently the Taoiseach Mr Martin is reported to have attended an indoor Boxing club event in December when indoor events were not allowed.
Putting aside the breeches and high profile exceptions, ordinary lockdown conditions are not equal either. One example is outdoor exercising which is permissible within 5KM. But not everyone's 5km offers the same amenities. Even two urban settings are not the same with some having parks within 5KM and others none. People in rural Ireland although may be surrounded by fields, are faced with unsuitable conditions for jogging, cycling or walking with little to no access to safe greenways, parks or treks within 5km or even 10 km. Certain hospital treatments have been postponed or cancelled. Then there is the divide for all those left without work during the lockdowns. PUP may cover some of their costs but it's not enough for everyone and even if it was, the psychological impact of been stuck at home all day with nothing to do has its toll on a person.
College students have been denied a fundamental experience of young adulthood and loss of rites of passage. Been denied a proper college life such as exploring new clubs, societies and meeting new people is a critical period in life where one attempts to start a life independent of home. These opportunities have either been lost or kicked down the road by at least two years meaning the opportunity to grow up has been pushed into later life. This will have long term consequences. Young adults particularly those unsettled have lost two potentially critical years of key real-world interactions. A loss of opportunity to meet new people and potential partners/lovers. Don't tell me this can be done online, apps are not real-world connections and only work to keep existing connections alive not to make new ones. At least that's how many of us find the online world.
And before anyone say's... ah but COVID came and we have no choice.... Yes, we do... it is not COVID locking us up, it is our governments and our most vocal people taking the hysterical and politically easy approaches. A properly managed COVID strategy could ensure control over the virus while also minimising the impact on everyday life. The above examples are just a few that demonstrate that lockdowns divide and it means that some people in certain circumstances are suffering more than others. It highlights the disruption the government's poor management of the crisis has created by long term lockdowns and a lack of proper investment in the key areas.
We will be exploring how other countries managed the crisis in the absence of lockdowns in a alter article