A community is formed by the willingness of all of to share in the responsibility for upholding the common good. Now, more than ever, we are aware of what the common good is. Now more than ever at any time in history, we know what the enemy is. Now, for the first time perhaps, the whole world shares a common enemy — an enemy that can be defeated the same way in Colombia, Canberra, California or Clifden.
It is not as if this thing that challenges us has a different line of attack in different places. No, it seems to have found a universal human weakness and is set to target this for the next six months or more.
This year, we have all sacrificed. There are those who had the front room set up planned for their wakes, who had idealised how they wanted to be sent off, but who were buried quietly with a murmuring handful of their closest relatives in the cold corner of a graveyard. There are parents and children who have needs that have been left unmet because of the ferocity of this pandemic.
There are those who count down the hours of life in days, months, years and bemoan what has been lost to nothingness. There are those who confront this disease in all its awfulness, those who out themselves in the way of infected spaces and materials.
And then there are the rest of us who do stupid things.
I am not giving out about students — in this column last week I welcomed them and highlighted what they bring to this city. I wrote about how they will have to reimagine their time in college. The vast majority have behaved well. For the hundreds more who did what they did this week, their reimagining skills will have to get more developed.
It is time for us all to take on the personal responsibility that is needed to keep Galway out of any long-term restriction that would impact on our way of life, our communities and our psyche.
Today is a day that could have far-reaching consequences for our city and county. This afternoon, a decision will be taken on whether our burgeoning infection rate justified the city and county being placed in Level Three lockdown. As outlined in the graph below, showing figures up to September 27, the rate of new Covid-19 cases in Galway has increased dramatically in recent weeks.
The city and county have now entered a critical phase where the behaviour of all of us will determine the extent of the further restrictions to be imposed. The number of new cases in Galway for September is over ten times as high as the number of new cases for August. In the last week alone, Galway has had more new cases of Covid-19 than in total for the three months of June, July and August.
What are your plans for the coming days and weeks, as it may be time to change them? The appeals of the acting CMO, Dr. Ronan Glynn and other members of NPHET to the public to redouble their efforts to keep the virus at bay are not having the desired effect in the Galway area, and a sea change in the attitude of some is called for.
This is a time to take personal responsibility and for us all to play our part in suppressing the virus. To protect life and health, to protect livelihoods and employment, a few relatively small sacrifices now could make all the difference.
If we do not individually, and collectively, make these choices now, it is likely that a far more restrictive regime will be imposed on us, and will remain with us for a considerable period. Protecting the elderly and the vulnerable must become the priority again, along with showing solidarity and support for our frontline workers.
If we are not persuaded by these arguments, then, purely out of self interest, there is also a very strong case to be made to change our behaviour. Who wants to revert to further restrictions? Clearly, no-one does, but, without a significant change in behaviour, that is the direction in which we are heading. The vast majority of our businesses are following best practice guidelines, and they are deserving of our support.
If we have any respect for where we live, who we care for, for the livelihoods and lives of others, we will all take a good look at how we can halve our interactions in the weeks and months ahead.
It is going to be a hard winter. Don’t make it harder. It’s time to be sound, not silly.