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Air bridges to nowhere… August 6, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

There’s been quite some pushback against the idea that pubs might have to remain closed for schools to open. That this has been mentioned in the UK this last few days in a way only adds to a broader dynamic of bring the posited approach to the fore. And that pushback?

Infectious diseases expert Prof Jack Lambert has said it is not “the right message” to be saying that “if we open up the pubs then the schools won’t be able to open in September”.

The UCD associate professor also said he did not believe the State’s restrictive travel policy is the answer to dealing with Covid-19.

He said there were fewer cases of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland than in the Republic even though the South has a more restrictive travel policy.

His alternatives?

“regional targeted openings” of pubs “maybe . . . would make sense instead of total openings. Or maybe we should go ahead with the openings. We’re kind of saying if we open up the pubs then the schools won’t be able to open in September.”

Regional targeted openings. On a small island. That’s going to work.

Then again Prof Lambert has some thoughts on this small island. Earlier last month he was musing about the travel restrictions (again) and offered this argument:

I would have been happy to travel to Greece, with all appropriate hand-washing, social distancing and use of face masks, both while in transit and while there. And I would feel it safe to return to Ireland without risk to those I cherish. So it is reasonable to have certain “air bridges”, including Greece, where it is safe for Irish people to travel and return, as long as they follow all appropriate prevention behaviours.. Instead I will probably go to visit sick relatives in Scotland, and I would place Scotland currently as higher risk. I would turn my trip there into my summer holiday, and try to make the most of it. I need time away and a holiday myself (it’s been tough for us all) and I would do everything at all stages of my Scottish holiday to conduct “Covid prevention” safely. People are travelling, and we should be ensuring safe travel, not chastising those who wish to travel and deciding what is okay and what is not. It is the personal responsibility of every Irish citizen who chooses to travel to make sure they do so safely.

Problem is, as is evident with the situation in Spain, the air-bridges idea has fallen apart due to a basic reality of the virus. It moves awful fast. Awful fast.

For example, George Lee made a good point on RTÉ this last week, he noted that rates of infection by Covid-19 change very quickly. He said that when the Green List was published on the 17th July Malta was one the safest, 0.8 cases in 100,000, they now have 6.9 cases. Cyprus has gone from 3.7 to 5.1. Finland was 0.9 and remains low. But the Netherlands has gone from 5.4 to 12. Spain is as he said ‘the big one’ with a jump from 17.7 to 49.2 all in the space of twelve days. If nothing else this suggests that ‘green lists’ and such like are cosmetic at best, that the complaints of the airlines are very short-sighted and that extreme caution is necessary – and one useful rejoinder from some comments BTL in various places is why on earth we would want to go to somewhere with a lower rate of infection potentially important infection with us. That’s not something one hears every day but it is a very very valid point.

The Guardian noted that the reimposition on controls between the UK and Spain was ‘as much about politics as hard data’. And yet for once perhaps the UK deserved a bit of credit because as the piece noted:

Yet it was also down to lessons learned the hard way about slow v speedy decision-making over the course of the pandemic – the decision-making was as much about politics and messaging as hard data.

Advisers studying the figures at the end of last week say they were deeply concerned about the rate of the rise in Spain, and the potential for thousands of cases to be imported by tourists. Though low in number, the coronavirus cases detected in holidaymakers returning from Spain are believed to be the first from a country which had been previously deemed to be safe to visit.

And the piece actually undercuts the idea this was equally about politics. That may have been a consideration, no doubt was. But those numbers in Spain are concerning in the extreme.

In a way this also points up the pointlessness, at this stage (and that is necessary to emphasise), of airbridges. Simply put the situation is too fluid to allow for them given the mobility of the virus and its ability to spread so rapidly.
And of course that’s quite apart from potential issues such as this.

Ryanair has clashed with Italy’s air travel regulators, who have threatened to ground the airline’s flights for breaches of Covid-19 safeguards.

Enac, Italy’s civil aviation authority, confirmed on Wednesday that it wrote to Ryanair for violations of its anti-Covid health regulations on board the Irish carrier’s craft.

Some of the alleged violations reported on various media are quite remarkable (apologies in advance for this link).

But consider the point quoted above about trust in ‘personal responsibility’ – presumably something along the lines of the personal responsibility of UK and other European tourists in Spain in resorts which had to shut down bars and night clubs due to lack of social distancing. It’s actually bizarre given we have evidence in front of our eyes as to how hard won gains can be frittered away in days by reopening too swiftly that there’s any weight afforded to such arguments.

And there is a strong case to be made that every effort should be made to ensure schools are safer to go into come the Autumn. Keeping levels of community transmission as close to zero as part of that are key. It is possible, very possible, that keeping pubs and other such outlets shut for a period longer will be part of that too. I’ve been following the progress of the disease in Victoria. It makes for genuinely disturbing reading to see how tenaciously the virus took hold and has exploded there. I find it strange in the extreme how little that experience appears to be filtering in to how we deal with this here.


1. NFB - August 6, 2020

I think it simply comes down to how happy are you to risk ending someones life – just one life for the sake of argument, but of course it could be more – so you can swan off to Greece for a week, or get a few more hundred people into your GAA match or get the pub in the arse end of nowhere functioning for a tiny amount of locals. It all seems like remarkably petty goals to risk such a potential outcome, but of course the vintners and the O’Leary’s and the county chairmen don’t seem to see it this way.

And speaking of it, how exactly does an organisation that trips over itself to point out how amateur it is end up needing 400K in gate receipts in order to field teams?

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - August 6, 2020

I wish you were doing the state health advice – that’s it in a nutshell. I’ve said this to people I know, that it’s not me catching it from them per se, but me giving it to them unknowingly. It’s a reciprocal thing. So why put myself or others in the way of doing that now when a bit of time would allow for matters to get better.

Liked by 2 people

tafkaGW - August 6, 2020


What many people don’t seem to appreciate is that if this virus goes completely out of control then at least one in a hundred people we each know will be dead before their time and a further 3 or 4 of them seriously disabled.

Liked by 3 people

2. gypsybhoy69 - August 10, 2020

When I went back to work initially around May 18th the city and the workplace was still pretty much a ghost town. With where I work it was a chance to catch up with the odd person who had to be in. There was a bit of what I can only call gallows humour. But most people I spoke to, which didn’t really include work colleagues as most were still working from home at that stage, said they weren’t directly affected by anything virus related. .

I know of five family friends including one family member who lost a parent due to it and I also know of three people who had it pretty bad, two of whom were hospitalised, one in intensive care.

So I’m spooked by the casual approach of a lot of people to it and incensed by the Vintners and O’Leary types. Capitalism, in perhaps any form isn’t a particularly a good system in a crisis but in the time of this global pandemic it is an absolute disaster.


tafkaGW - August 10, 2020



WorldbyStorm - August 10, 2020

Very much agree GB. I know five or six people who have caught it – one very seriously. I don’t, thankfully know anyone who directly died from it, though a couple of friends and relatives have relatives have members of their families or friends of the family who did. It is depressing beyond words to see some try to minimise it or say it ‘only’ impacts on those in certain cohorts. As you say, it is clear capitalism just isn’t up to the job of dealing with this, at least at this point.


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