Leaks and sloppy communication have made this covid doom loop so much worse
As Eamon Ryan steams his head over a bowl tonight after a positive Covid test, Tony Holohan has dismissed talk of a NPHET meeting on December 30th as “entirely speculative”.
He was responding to the latest stomach-sinking newspaper reports that suggest the health advisory group may meet again immiently to adopt further restrictions as a result of the Omicron variant.
You’d be excused at this point from confusing neck ache and covid with a serious case of whiplash. But as spectator sports go, this one calls for a lot more than popcorn.
The communication since the beginning of the pandemic has been described by some as a total shambles. I’d go as far to say that the effects of the leaks, confusion and blatent kite-flying on businesses and anxious citizens has made a difficult situation a lot worse.
There’s only so much peddling in the void that we can do before this takes too much of a toll.
Take earlier this week for example. The leaks after the NPHET meeting suggested a 5pm closing time for hospitality in the lead up to Christmas and beyond. There was almost 20 hours before it was mooted as 8pm. Then another few hours until this was agreed and communicated to the public.
Too many businesses, employees, brides, hoteliers and employers were left standing in mid air on a rug that had been pulled from beneath them for too long. There’s only so much peddling in the void that we can do before this takes too much of a toll.
The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) says the decision by the Government to implement an 8pm curfew for pubs and restaurants is “closure in camouflage”. They say most pubs will now be unable to viably operate in that timeframe and will now have to close anyway, putting tens of thousands of people out of work from next week.
Omicron couldn’t have blindsided us THAT much. We knew since the start of the pandemic that new variants, worse variants could be on the cards.
They also questioned how the arbitrary closing times of 5pm or 8pm were decided upon by NPHET and the Government, with “no scientific explanation currently having been provided.”
This time round, the mood of the public has shifted. We’ve done everything asked of us. The questions are now being asked if the government has done enough? Omicron couldn’t have blindsided us that much. We knew since the start of the pandemic that new variants, worse variants could be on the cards. Some are now asking how our leaders mitigated for such an event.
Either way. We are where we are and it is what it is. But the hysteria over hitting “nuclear buttons” needs much better management. (It refers to a newspaper piece today which said NPHET could ‘press the nuclear button’ and meet on Dec 30 if measures adopted this week don’t control the transmission of Omicon). The language being used has to be addressed too. Words like ‘doubling down, slippage, doing more’ suggest the public isn’t doing enough.
The message can’t be fluffed anymore. I think we have all grasped that Covid is unpredictable. But closing businesses (or schools) every time there’s a surge isn’t the way to live. It isn’t a life. It certainly isn’t a livelihood.
“There are no guarantees,” the Taoiseach keeps saying, when it comes to potential restrictions. But that’s not what we are after. We want clear communication, decisive leadership, forward planning, mitigation measures.
No confusing leaks.