My toddler’s preschool group had a Covid-19 outbreak this week that took away two staff members and about half the children. I assume she’s what we used to call a ‘close contact’ but without the familiar text from the HSE she’s running wild, free and potentially positive.
I don’t know the rules anymore, but nobody else does. The latest ESRI Tracker survey on Covid-19 behavior revealed that only one in ten of us knows how to behave properly when we have possible symptoms of the plague. Those of us who don’t know are in this predicament because the government is a terrible communicator.
We haven’t really moved away from Covid – it’s still here, piling up cases and causing concern around us. It hides unspoken in all our conversations. Nobody wants to talk about Covid, but everyone still kind of wants to talk about Covid.
It’s hard to be sure. So let’s not mention it. We say euphemistic things like “in these new times,” with the emphasis signaling that we’re really asking about the virus.
We all invent our own complicated protocol of hypocrisy and inconsistency to navigate this world of post-Covid restrictions that, for the most part, keeps us living the lives we have been denied for two long years.
You might be someone who thinks the brakes released too quickly in February, or maybe you enjoy being able to clear your throat on the bus without fear of being reported to the Covid police. Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle. Our differing attitudes towards the lingering virus threat often leave us more torn than divided as a society. That’s what happens when you infantilize a nation for two years and then one day you tell us to do what we want.
Hardly anyone wants restrictions, but nobody wants Covid. Shaking hands is a minefield. Is it impolite to disinfect immediately afterwards, or is that just de rigueur in 2022? It was embarrassing enough before: handshake or kiss? When the restrictions are gone, it’s even worse. You meet a friend and there’s that awkward pause as you’re trying to figure out whether to nod or give a quick, unauthorized hug.
Are you neurotic about wearing your mask while doing the big shopping, or are you altruistic?
According to a poll conducted for , nearly two-thirds of us support reintroducing mandatory mask-wearing indoors like shops and public transport Claire Byrne Live from Amárach Research last week. This is confusing because two-thirds of us are definitely not wearing masks right now.
Is that because after two years we feel naked if there aren’t laws ordering everyone to be sensible instead of just advice recommending it? For even if we trust our own excellent common sense, we do not trust that of other peoples.
Normal life is back but it’s so hard to know how seriously a person takes the risk of contracting Covid and what reasons they might have for doing so. There are people with disabilities, people with pre-existing conditions and older people. We all know and love someone in these categories. But you can’t ask if it’s her chronic high blood pressure or just the old hypochondria that still has her panicking.
I’m a hypocrite because when someone gleefully assured me ‘It’s not Covid’ between barking coughs recently, I took three steps back because my flimsy childcare facilities go up in smoke when my child sneezes in the classroom.
You can also not question the WhatsApp positive antigen test result. Are they really positive or do they just not want to meet? There is almost nothing now that you cannot justify by citing Covid-19 safety measures.
Remember when people used to say something’s going around? And you didn’t have to lock yourself inside for a week if you have that certain something. You went to work anyway because you couldn’t stay home for some little bug.
Well, staying home for every little thing seems to be our public health strategy now. If you have any symptoms, you need to stay home and hold on.
But is it ok to take a week off just in case it is covid? What happens in the long run if we stay at home with all the colds and aches from work? Eventually economic collapse. But our public health officials and government seem to think it’s worth it, and we’re not questioning them at the moment.
Whatever you do, don’t mention the virus. This is what our post-Covid life has become, a scene in it FawltyTowers – except it’s not funny. A free people was reduced to this. Begging for someone to boss us around.
In the end, a risk-free life isn’t much of a life. If we’re hypocritical, if we’re inconsistent and rationalize some decisions that fall on the other side of the risk, maybe we need to take a break. A balance has to be found, even if we don’t always get it right.
I will, however, cling to my personal space. I’ve always hated manspreaders.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/dont-mention-the-c-word-i-said-it-once-but-thankfully-i-just-about-got-away-with-it-41517456.html Don’t mention the “C-word” — I said it once, but luckily I just got away with it