DERRY JOURNAL Editorial: Restrictions easing a new dawn after the long night?
As we await confirmation of further easement of restrictions later this week, the return of the Spring sunshine is giving many of us the chance to enjoy the limited services and freedoms which have returned thus far.
Speculation is mounting that there will be clarity and dates announced over a wide range of long-awaited easements following the Executive meeting on Thursday, with shops and services, gyms and leisure, outdoor dining, church services, travel restrictions and other matters expected to be tabled.
With winter reluctant to loosen it grasp recently it might not have felt like the long dark winter in lockdown was ending, but we are starting to see some green shoots in terms of the impact the vaccine roll out.
This week saw what was probably the most normal looking weekday mornings we have seen this year as all schoolchildren returned to class, with the rush hour resembling, well, the rush hour. And as the number of vaccines administered surpassed the million milestone in the north, some sports activities have also now resumed, while more people can meet up in outdoors, and click and collect retail is allowed once more. Importantly ‘stay at home’ as of this week has been changed to ‘stay local’.
While the vaccine roll out has been at a slower pace, across the border, where local people have been living under some of the toughest restrictions in the world for over 100 days, the 5km travel limit has ended and people can now travel county-wide. That’s a massive difference for people living in a beautiful big county like Donegal, and will no doubt be widely welcomed as residents can now revisit the numerous beaches, towns and beauty spots that have been off limits for so long. And here too all schoolchildren have returned, and more people can meet up outdoors.
All of this is very welcome, with plans for more easing of COVID restrictions north and south over the coming days and weeks as more and more people benefit from the protection offered by the vaccine. At last, we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.
We are seeing death rates and hospitalisations come down and case numbers fall away. The vaccines have made a big difference, but we wouldn’t be where we are if people hadn’t supported the roll out while also knuckling down and giving up so much in 2020/2021.
It has not been easy for anyone of any age and it’s not over, but it’s important to celebrate that achievement.
Hopefully now in the weeks ahead we’ll see the sunny weather continue so we can make the most of these first tentative steps on a pathway back to the way we were.