Eliminating community transmission of SARS-COV-2 would remove the uncertainty in our lives, giving us clarity, and a much needed sense of normality in our lives.
Our pubs and restaurants can function as normal, while arts and cultural events can resume. We can go to matches, and celebrate the wins.
The elderly and vulnerable can fully participate in society again. Further insolvencies will be prevented, and government supports gradually roll off as the crisis finally ends.
1. Distribute Vaccines
We must ensure that their distribution and uptake is as efficient as possible. But the vaccine roll out won’t be enough on its own—we need other policies for the next few months—at least until the summer and probably into late 2021.
2. One Lockdown to End Them All
Everybody hates lockdowns, but when we’re faced with so many cases as currently, they’re the only viable option—our testing and tracing capacity is nowhere near enough to deal with so many cases and we must restrict people’s interactions as much as possible to get us down to very low number of cases.
3. Financial supports
During the lockdown weeks, people and businesses forced to close must be supported. Same for individuals who must isolate themselves for a few days due to Covid.
4. County by county approach.
Counties that reduce their case numbers would be rewarded. Did you know that in early December, Galway was only days away from reaching zero community cases? That would be fantastic, and counties/towns that can achieve that should reap the benefits immediately. In other words, if say, Galway reaches low/zero community cases, it would be allowed to reopen its economy.
5. Quarantine incoming travellers.
There’s no point shutting down chunks of the economy to reduce cases if we allow anybody to come in the country freely and reinfecting us. That’s what happened this summer after we reached some of the lowest case numbers in Europe—we let travellers come to Ireland and that became an important factor in eventually pushing infections to the sky-high levels we now face. Incoming travellers should be brought to hotels for 14 days in quarantine, where they would be tested.
6. Manage internal borders, including the border with Northern Ireland.
Locking down and quarantining international travellers is essential, but we must also restrict movements on the island. If a county reaches low case numbers, we don’t want it to be infected from outside—so we curb travel into that county. Conversely, if a county is highly infected, we don’t want infections to spill over into other counties, so must restrict travel out of the infected county.
7. Invest in public health—test, trace, isolate.
After a few weeks of lockdown, cases will be down to manageable levels. That’s when our testing and tracing infrastructure will be key to keeping it that way. But the problem is that Ireland has under-invested in its public health infrastructure, including staff. You want an investment with a big bang for the buck? This is it.
8. Ventilation, masks, washing of hands.
Last, as we’ve heard a million times by now, let’s keep wearing our masks, ventilate our rooms and buildings, and wash our hands.