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Public sentiment dipping as case numbers rise? And other matters… September 8, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

You’ve got to wonder sometimes. The IT had one reporter this week seriously suggesting that if the government didn’t like health advice from public health experts it should go and get advice it did like from others. That’s the paper of record, or so it likes to see itself. And then there’s this from Conor Pope:

Irish consumers are now the most anxious in Europe, and are increasingly nervous about shopping, eating out, spending money and using public transport, according to a sentiment tracking survey from Deloitte.


Confidence levels in Ireland have dropped by 6 per cent from a previous wave of research in late July, falling behind France, Belgium and Spain, and making Irish consumers the most anxious in Europe.

Some 50 per cent of Irish consumers report that they are worried about their physical wellbeing, up slightly from the previous wave of research. Concern for their families’ health has also increased by 2 per cent to 62 per cent.


Confidence in visiting physical stores was at 59 per cent, down 3 per cent on the most recent survey conducted at the beginning of August.


Some 40 per cent of people reported feeling safe going to a restaurant, a decrease of 4 per cent on the last survey.

Planned expenditure in restaurants had decreased significantly, falling 13 per cent.

It’s… it’s… it’s like there’s a viral pandemic going on!

That said some interesting stats. People seem a lot less willing to throw caution to the winds than some of the boosters of commerce and ‘return to the new normality’ crew. Perhaps because people are able to see that there is indeed a viral pandemic and act accordingly.

While confidence in air travel increased slightly, with 22 per cent saying they would feel safe travelling on a plane – an increase of 2 per cent –confidence in hotel accommodation remained consistent at 40 per cent.

And far from unsurprisingly given the numbers out of work, something the ‘new normality’ folk seem blissfully unaware of as a consequence of the pandemic:

Nearly a quarter said they were worried about making upcoming payments, a jump of 4 per cent on two weeks’ previously, while 41 per cent reported that they were delaying making large purchases, also an increase of 4 per cent.

And 68 per cent were limiting their use of public transport.

Hardly a surprise:

The head of consumer at Deloitte, Daniel Murray, said consumer confidence was “extremely fragile and sensitive to changes”.

He said that although overall confidence either grew or remained steady as we emerged from the national lockdown throughout June and July, the “recent uptick in Covid-19 case numbers and the implementation of localised restrictions across three counties have taken their toll on consumers in Ireland”.

But amazing isn’t it the framing of that last. The restrictions aren’t what dents confidence as such. It’s the reality of the virus. And it really doesn’t matter how long business interests and some in politics keep banging that drum – the reality is a rhetorical mixing of cause and effect won’t convince anyone as long as actual numbers of infections continues to rise.

Look again at those figures. Restaurants, air travel and so on. Does any of this suggest a massive groundswell of public opinion to further ‘reopen’ above and beyond where we are? Surely they suggest quite the opposite. A large majority in all instance who are cautious. And it does point up how much of a stranglehold some interests have in the media in terms of presenting matters as they will.

Which brings me to another thought. Read the comments BTL on many IT articles and one will read about how we must shrug off a pathological fear of infection. But I think that is an unwise attitude. I’m not sure people do have a pathological fear of infection any more than those of us who cycle have a pathological fear of an accident. Rather we take precautions to minimise risk as best as is possible. We wear helmets, reflective gear, put lights on bicycles, obey traffic signals (well, some of us do anyhow). Of course there’s the possibility of accident, but simple enough measures mitigate that sufficiently to allow one to cycle around with a degree of confidence. Similarly, and here’s a key point, many people who will happily go out to the shops for food or into some workplaces or into parks or wherever for exercise, will eschew bars, restaurants, cinemas for the moment (here’s NFB who ventured in for the first time in many months to see Tenet recently and to be honest it sounded more than safe enough, but I’d not want to go to a later performance). Because all these are voluntary acts. If one can avoid them, well, why not? Holidays are much the same. Indeed let’s not overstate it. Pre-pandemic I’d go to a restaurant – quite often the local Bruhouse, perhaps once every six weeks to two months. It’s not exactly a luxury but it’s not exactly not. For many it is a luxury. There’s no need for a pathological fear in this for many people to determine air travel simply isn’t worth the risk, restaurants are something for another day. Hopefully sooner, but if not some point down the line. And so on. None of this is irrational. None of it is phobic. It is a basic assessment of benefits and potential risks.

Perhaps not unrelated, consider this from the frontline. Much exalted but undermined by so many of the policies being implemented at the moment. For as case numbers rise so...

More than 120 healthcare workers were diagnosed with Covid-19 in the past week as transmission levels increase across the country, new figures show.

The increase of 121 healthcare cases reported by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) comes as Beaumont Hospital in Dublin was forced to close wards after a small number of patients and staff tested positive for the virus.

And some fairly stunning detail in all this:

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) claimed the rate of infection among healthcare workers could be even higher because asymptomatic cases are not being picked up.

“When a positive case is identified in an acute hospital, all staff are not tested. We do not believe testing suspected close contacts goes far enough considering the normal movements of staff throughout a hospital in any one day,” said INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha.


“We do not believe this is safe and providing temperature testing is not sufficient considering what we know about asymptomatic positives.”

Meanwhile numbers of those in older age cohorts continue to rise. One can only hope the impacts will be limited. So where’s the surprise people more broadly have concerns?


1. EWI - September 8, 2020

‘The government cannot fail, it can only be failed by the citizens’.

Liked by 1 person

2. NFB - September 8, 2020

And I won’t be heading back to a cinema soon. If reviews for No Time To Die are crazy positive I might think about it, but there’s nothing else on the horizon that catches the eye like Tenet.

Liked by 1 person

3. alanmyler - September 8, 2020

307 cases this evening. No amount of pro-normality boosting or questioning the breakdown or severity of those cases can really hide the reality that there’s a surge going on at the moment and one would be wise to do one’s bit to avoid contributing to that. I can’t help feeling that FF in particular are not fit for purpose to deal with this politically. For sure FG had the easier gig in closing down things and it was always going to be more difficult to reopen, but even so they’re really making a balls of it by giving in to the publicans in particular.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - September 8, 2020

+1 Alan.

It’s telling hearing the voice of the public health people and specialists in the area. One point in particular stuck out. Three things are meant to open more or less simultaneously – schools, colleges and pubs. That’s one too many at this particular moment. Can’t help but feel that for some the schools issue – and thankfully so far so good on it despite rising numbers – was used as a trojan horse for interest groups. I have enormous sympathy for publicans and other businesses unable to return to normality. And I’d be in favour of good supports for them in the interim assuming they can be opened safely. But there is a public health issue here that may well see that opening postponed a while and all the stamping of feet and so on by them and other lobbies isn’t going to change that. And really, again llooking at the stats quoted above in the post, how much appetite is there for a reopening where people feel unnerved? Nowhere near as much as those lobbies say or assume.


alanmyler - September 9, 2020

Unfortunately I think there will be enough people who will ignore the risks associated with going back to the pub to make it viable. A mixture of younger people who don’t really see (or refuse to look for) the evidence that covid is personally dangerous to them, people who genuinely need to get out of the house to meet their pals for mental health reasons as much as anything else, people who have fallen for the line that we have to live with covid, people in denial about it altogether. The pubs don’t need all 5 million of us back in their premises drinking, they just need enough of us to buy enough pints to make it worth their while reopening. While neither you nor I are likely to be popping down to the local on Sep 21st I’ll bet you that the Morning Ireland main news story the morning after will be all about how busy the pubs were for a Monday night. Personally I’m finding that I’m veering towards some sort of abstentionist moral outrage over all of this, which is surprising me, fond of an occasional drink as I am, married into a family reared in the pub trade. There’s even a part of me that has started nostalgically reminiscing about Michael McDowell and his idea of replacing the traditional Irish pubs with continental style cafés, I just prefer the idea of sitting outdoors for an hour or maybe two having a couple of drinks, under an umbrella if required, rather than squeezing into a busy indoor pub space surrounded by people whose social distancing discipline has been compromised after the lethal second pint. Clearly covid has pushed my over the edge into grumpy-old-man-dom.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - September 9, 2020

That’s a fair point. Many pubs are knocking along with very low numbers, suburban pubs in particular. That’s what they want back. And as you say some younger cohorts won’t be too fussy. And yet in Dublin and Limerick we inexorably move towards more restrictions.


4. tafkaGW - September 9, 2020

The only one of my relatives who go Covid19 in the first wave, almost certainly got it in the pub.



WorldbyStorm - September 9, 2020

I’m sorry to hear that. I know a few that first weekend around lockdown who caught it then too. Though not in a pub. Looking back the week before even though I was taking precautionary measure they were nowhere near sufficient.


tafkaGW - September 9, 2020

Sorry I mean the govt are fuckwits for opening pubs in response to lobbying by the drinks industry. The relative was just unlucky to be a too regular frequenter of a watering hole.

But just as an example of the potential non-fatal effects of this thing, the relative has recovered to the extent that they can work again, but still after five months doesn’t have full lung capacity and is feeling more knackered than usual.


Alibaba - September 9, 2020

I don’t see the logic of re-opening pubs. Leaving aside the serious health and safety concerns, I would be ill at ease with all the restrictions to be observed. Who wants that annoyance which prevents relaxation? I feel strongly for those who used to go to the pub alone, typically the elderly. Yet now they have the pleasure of more money in their pockets and are disinclined to return to the pubs. More time is spent watching telly, reading books, clearing stuff, or so they tell me, and most likely they will see how things pan out in the post-Covid world.

A few friends came up with a new way of catching up together. We meet in a nominated park, bring collapsible garden seats and a few drinks or flasks, weather permitting. 

Liked by 2 people

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