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They think it’s (almost) all over… January 20, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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The National Public Health Emergency Team met on Thursday and agreed to recommend the removal of the 8pm closing time for hospitality and the end of the requirement for a Covid-19 pass to gain access to pubs and restaurants.

The digital pass will still be needed for international travel, however.

The team also cleared the way for the removal of crowd limits as well as an end to restrictions on permitted household guests. A phased return to work has also been recommended in order to give workplaces time to organise their own individual public health measures, a source said.

Some of the only restrictions to remain will be around the requirement to wear a mask in retail and on public transport, as well as existing public health measures in places likes schools.

The rationale?

The Nphet members were understood to have discussed how the Covid-19 digital pass need no longer be required for access to hospitality given the high levels of either infection or vaccination in the population at present.

They could be right. Let’s hope they are.

Comments»

1. tomasoflatharta - January 21, 2022
2. EWI - January 21, 2022

It will be interesting to see how much expert pushback there is on what seems like a very unwise and hasty decision.

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WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2022

I was thinking much the same thing. It’s not that I disagree with the fundamental analysis – Omicron is hitting a vaccine wall and despite huge numbers of infections the numbers severely ill or worse are a fraction in comparison and that’s great. But. That’s in a context where restrictions and working from home continues. What is an influx of people back into workplaces going to do in terms of the overall mix? What does pulling restrictoins at this point, close to the peak of Omicron do? I’d have thought hold steady until Jan 31st and take a good look then would have been a better course of action, and if all was well, sure then proceed.

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EWI - January 21, 2022

I’d have thought hold steady until Jan 31st and take a good look then would have been a better course of action, and if all was well, sure then proceed.

I would be interested to know if any sea-changes in the composition of NPHET have occurred after Watt was parachuted in last year (along with his scndalous pay deal). I see that Danny McCoy has been exulting on the airwaves this morning, and proclaiming that the workers’ time away from petty and ever-present micro-management is coming to an end.

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WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2022

Yeah. And on that, It was funny and telling, some of the IT coverage talked about ‘people going back to work’. Er… hallo.

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EWI - January 21, 2022

Yeah. And on that, It was funny and telling, some of the IT coverage talked about ‘people going back to work’. Er… hallo.

No doubt if called on it they’ll claim innocence, but the context is very telling (and the tweets by IT heads on Twitter revealing).

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WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2022

Agreed, it’s a deliberate tactic and part of a broader strategy there.

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3. Liberius - January 21, 2022

Banzai, is a word that seems apt.

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WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2022

It’s going to be very bumpy. Andrew Flood has some useful thoughts about this.

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Liberius - January 21, 2022

Indeed so, and with the gene out of the bottle so to speak I can’t see the government reimposing any restrictions in the future without a major battle, hopefully the evolutionary trajectory of the virus doesn’t bring us back to high hospitalisations and deaths but it can’t be ruled out, I’d worry the response if it did happen would be too little too late.

On the masks front, I’d hope people retain a strong desire to use them even after the government inevitably adds them to the list of public health measures bonfired for the sake of “personal freedoms” at the end of February.

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Liberius - January 21, 2022

*genie, though with gene fits with viral evolution…

Liked by 1 person

4. EWI - January 21, 2022

McCoy gonna McCoy:

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Danny McCoy said employers and employees would have to decide how best to proceed on returning to the office environment.

He said everyone has worked hard during the last two years to contain this problem and in the vast majority of cases, businesses have found new ways of servicing markets.

Mr McCoy said that probably the largest amount of people who have been impacted by Covid-19 is in the office environment.

The focus now is on “how we get this working from home and the balance with the office”.

“I think that is best decided at the level of the workplace between employers and employees, so that means more autonomy for the businesses and personal responsibility on the employees,” he stated.

The Ibec CEO said the Government and NPHET have done a great job but now it is about handing back those “decision points to where they are probably best made”.

The workplace protocol, on which employers, trade unions and Government have been working, has been trying to make workplaces safe and ensure when people have to come into work that the right measures are in place.

“It is fair enough that people will have some reticence, but we have gone through two years now, we are not talking about wild abandon here,” he said.

https://www.rte.ie/news/business/2022/0121/1275017-ibec-on-return-to-offices/

Liked by 1 person

benmadigan - January 21, 2022

I’ve been told of at least 1 multinational in Dublin that cannot Covid proof its offices due to factors like number of workers, actual available space, number of rooms etc.

So implementing Covid measures properly means that all its staff can’t come in at the same time as previously.

AFAIK they are continuing their WFH policy

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Michael Carley - January 21, 2022

When my employer (in England) went through an exercise to decide room occupancy based on air requirements during COVID, they discovered they’d been breaking the law in normal circumstances for years.

Liked by 1 person

5. sonofstan - January 21, 2022

RTÉ site has 4 sub-headings reporting on this:
Coronavirus
Business
Rugby
Comment and Analysis

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WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2022

Hmmmm… got to say though while I’d prefer a week or two more and it will be interesting to see how they stagger certain restrictions or not across the next while there’s a certain pleasure in seeing something some on social media and indeed some commentators in the media stated wouldn’t happen in terms of NPHET recommending sweeping lifting of measures. But you know, I’ve vulnerable older relatives which makes interactions with them continue whatever about restrictions lifting or not to be cautious for quite a while to go. Whatever RTÉ etc say about everything changing.

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6. banjoagbeanjoe - January 21, 2022

Gotta go with NPHET’s advice. They’re the scientists, the experts making evidence-based decisions. We supported them up to now. We should continue to support them.

When’s the next far right march and who on the left is going to be in the vanguard of kicking them off the streets?

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7. roddy - January 21, 2022

No matter what happens up here I will be keeping out of crowds of people for the forseeable future.

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WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2022

That’s a good idea. Gigs, events etc, not going there for a while.

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sonofstan - January 21, 2022

My usual diet of non-league football and improv/ noise gigs should be safe enough.

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Dr Nightdub - January 22, 2022

We talked about this over dinner and we’re the same. Her nibs was immuno-compromised before all this even began, she’s now nine months into Long Covid after getting infected in the school where she teaches. We’re both double-vaxxed and boosted, but that small % gap between vaccines and 100% protection could be what kills her.

Just have to go on living in our bunker. Me being dragged back into the office is now a big concern.

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8. De - January 21, 2022

The surprise “End of the pandemic” has cut across the discussion and implementation of proper mitigations yet again, HEPA, retrofit mechanical ventilation and FFP2 masks were just gaining traction. Christian Drosten, a leading German virologist does not share NPHETs Optimism, in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday on German radio he “…has warned that the omicron variant of the coronavirus could soon become more aggressive and disease-causing. It is by no means certain that the mutant will remain in its mitigated state… the virologist warned against knowingly becoming infected with the corona virus. The assumption that one is then immune is a fallacy. In just a few weeks, a new virus variant could emerge against which people infected with Omicron or Delta would not have any immune protection. Drosten emphasized that it is also problematic that natural infections do not guarantee protective immunity in the population in the long term. Without vaccination, the pandemic would therefore probably continue for several years.”
https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/drosten-omikron-koennte-staerker-krankmachende-wirkung-entwickeln-100.html

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9. NFB - January 22, 2022

It’s been a very strange day. I’m not sure where this has all come from, but I won’t be acting as if we’re all going back to normal.

In Fe 21 I had a very bad-tempered phone call with my father.

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NFB - January 22, 2022

Sorry, I’m having some phone problems

It’s been a very strange day. I’m not sure where this has all come from, but I won’t be acting as if we’re all going back to normal.

In Feb 21 I had a very bad-tempered phone call with my father. He wanted to talk about summer plans, on the basis that vaccines delivered by then would mean COVID was over, and he did not want to hear anything to the contrary. Things got quite heated when I refused to indulge the fantasy.

Well, here we are nearly 12 months later, and just had a re-run with him. The reality that people are still going to get COVID, the booster requirement, new mutations, those concepts, ideas, realities, he doesn’t want to hear it. It’s over as far as he’s concerned, as of 6AM Saturday. Now it’s “a bad cold” and nothing more.

This country lost the run of itself in the last 24 hours.

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WorldbyStorm - January 22, 2022

Agreed NFB and DR Nightdub. this from RTÉ is typical “ But with the widespread lifting of restrictions this weekend, there is at least some hope that they have been lifted for the last time.”

Well that’s far too Panglossian.

What’s seems to me to be actually happening here and that same article hints at masks being almost voluntary (after all who wants to be reminded of a global pandemic!) is a division between those who will return to their normal and those of us who know or live with or are people who can’t ourselves can’t. In my instance I’ve the exposure from the creature being a certain age in school so that’s baked in but that has massive implications re immediate relatives some older who can’t be exposed. I don’t resent the logistical impacts of those implications – they would exist one way or another – but they include effective quarantines before staying with them etc (that was Christmas) clear social distancing etc – but the idea that ‘lifting restrictions’ is synonymous with the pandemic being over for many is a joke – for all of us if we give a toss about the people I describe above the pandemic is likely never going to be over on certain levels. I saw a stat referenced in the guardian, mentioned it here – up to 25% of the uk population has vulnerabilities thorough age etc presumably less here but even 1 in 6 is a massive number and difficult not to feel we are seeing an exercise in social aversion to that fact. And little evidence of any thought about how to mitigate it. For some as Andrew a flood days this Omicron works is going to be very miserable.

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10. Alibaba - January 22, 2022

To my surprise an unvaccinated friend tried to get our local pub to let him in. This request was politely declined. When he cracked some joke about yellow stars, the bartender replied “You think that’s funny, here’s something funnier, you’re barred!”. Now any prospect of catching up with mates seems unlikely and friendships are in danger of fading away.

I’m thinking of another unvaccinated friend who has WhatApped our circle frequently with sarcastic comments about virus concerns. The bonds of friendship are so strong, we decided not to argue the toss with her, just ignore it. But face to face chats are different. Bottom line – the loosening of some restrictions is welcomed but we still want to see the crucial necessity of masks used, avoid crowded settings etc. and won’t be shy of saying so.

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WorldbyStorm - January 22, 2022

I like the response from the pub.

I can see that re friendships and how that raises issues. I’ve know someone who would be sceptical but not anti and is pretty careful including Vaccination. But it’s jarring to hear far right talking points repeated almost verbatim and having to gently push back. So I can imagine how tough that is and now with face to face increasingly possible.

Your last point is spot on. It’s almost a matter of emphasis. In a way this is my biggest problem with the govt approach. All fine to loosen many restrictions, pubs clubs. A bit of caution on some social distancing ie give it a week or ten days to lift and wrt return to work perhaps ten days too. But stage it a bit. And an emphasis that it isn’t over by a long shot, many people are very vulnerable, that there’s a duty of care broadly to them and the broader society.

But those messages just weren’t coming through.

I’m off to Easons this morning and it will be interesting to see what Dublin City centre is like as against a few weeks back.

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11. LMS - January 22, 2022

I think the removal of restrictions in this manner shows that, like a lot of things in our society, the management of the pandemic is going to be privatised. Instead of a more or less strong/coherent state response we are going to have millions of individual responses the sum of which will be far less than even a lame state strategy. Instead of responding to the increased risk of death and disease (from mild to debilitating) we are just going to normalise that risk, absorb it into our everyday reality and move on with all of our lives the poorer for it. It’s a maddening but also very predictable depoliticisation of a highly political issue. A pandemic is definitionally a public health issue and it demands a coherent societal response but we are not getting that anymore.

Many sceptics/deniers said that covid is just a bad dose of the flu and that people also die from the flu every year and so we shouldn’t fear deaths from covid. And I see this talking point gathering pace amongst people who are not part of the denialist movement which I think is very sad. Could we not have taken the pandemic as an opportunity to realise that maybe those people don’t need to die from the flu? Maybe people shouldn’t be expected to go to work/school/college when they have a cold/flu and potentially pass it on. Could we not have for once and for all sorted out our health system? Proper pay and conditions for front line workers, abolish private healthcare, Irish NHS etc?

Capitalist Realism by Mark Fisher is what is playing on my mind a lot since I read the news last night about restrictions ending. He talks about the privatisation of stress and the need to push back against the depoliticisation of the epidemic of poor mental health. I think that is exactly the case here with the pandemic. It is a highly political, public issue but now it’s gonna be one’s personal choice as to how cautious one is. In other words, we are all going to become our own managers of our own miniature pandemic reality. Clearly this is untenable from a public health perspective. But if the line is peddled enough by the media that we are through this and that numbers are down/ hospitalisations are down etc. at a certain stage people will imbibe that and they will normalise all this extra suffering. All in the service of capital of course. Just depressing in every respect.

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EWI - January 22, 2022

It is a highly political, public issue but now it’s gonna be one’s personal choice as to how cautious one is. In other words, we are all going to become our own managers of our own miniature pandemic reality.

‘We all partied’. And wow, has the outcome of last Christmas, and all those unnecessary deaths, really been pushed down the memory-hole by the press.

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LMS - January 22, 2022

Yes exactly. And I remember thinking and commenting here in fact this time last year that at least the government weren’t quite bloodthirsty enough to carry on without restrictions despite the bleating from lobbyists and press. Much has changed in a year indeed.

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WorldbyStorm - January 22, 2022

Superb comment LMS. Just to add the privatisation of individual risk only takes us so far because so many have little or no autonomy in working lives or due to individual health or resources status etc

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WorldbyStorm - January 22, 2022

Btw in Dublin this morning – in fairness people masked up in shops – numbers lower than I expected – picking up a bit by lunchtime – be interesting to see how this goes over next few weeks.

Bad timing award goes to the crew who organised an anti restrictions March there today.

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LMS - January 22, 2022

This is exactly the problem with it. Now those people who are concerned about the virus have no recourse or protection in airing or attempting to exercise caution as a result of those concerns especially in the workplace.

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EWI - January 22, 2022

Danny McCoy reckons that the boss and professional class have had it worst, what with the having to stay at home, away from their personal fiefdoms

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WorldbyStorm - January 22, 2022

Christ. Empire builders one and all EWI, aren’t they?

LMS, and I guess everything is designed precisely to that outcome.

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Alibaba - January 23, 2022

‘ now it’s gonna be one’s personal choice as to how cautious one is.’ This is exactly what they are doing. The taking away of remaining restrictions will be framed as judgements on the basis of “personal responsibility”. Also, there were stupid pro-business decisions driven by Varadkar. Take this, his demand to remove “all restrictions” in hospitality, including prematurely lifting vaccine certificates when there are still so many unknowns.

There are many people who have underlying health conditions and need to have restrictions kept and enforced. There are many businesses who have underlying wealth conditions but need to have “the money” to get back to normal. The latter is according to their spokespersons on mainstream media. True enough, for some. But what about free Covid tests for all? And naturally I wonder about workplace health-and-safety conditions, the long Covid effects and the myriad of other untreated health needs.

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EWI - January 23, 2022

There are many businesses who have underlying wealth conditions but need to have “the money” to get back to normal. The latter is according to their spokespersons on mainstream media.

‘Underlying wealth conditions’ a great line. I’m sure the FFGG govt will bend over backwards to ‘treat’ those, too. It always somehow seems to be ‘trickle upwards’ from PAYE wage slaves.

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