The Examiner this morning quotes an Infectious diseases consultant, Dr Clíona Ní Cheallaigh, as recommending that, “Pubs and restaurants should not open while levels of community transmission of Covid-19 remain high.” On the face of it you’d say that’s par for the course, but I’m a bit uneasy about it.
Dr Clíona Ní Cheallaigh is doubtless well-qualified to speak, you’d say. She’s the Associate Professor Consultant of Clinical Medicine at Trinity College and so she brings a certain gravitas to the table. But what she also brings is the comfort and security of her own tenure for life so Covid or no Covid, our Clíona will never know a poor day. I don’t begrudge her that and fair dues to her for all she has achieved. But somebody in her position, bought and paid for by the ordinary citizens of the State, should not sound so patronising and dismissive when they pronounce on the rest of us and yet somehow they, (Public Health), all seem to manage it.
The Examiner article is entitled, “Pubs and restaurants should not open,” and she means for the Christmas holidays. According to her,”There was evidence that restaurants and pubs were “significant sites” of the spread of the virus,” I would like to ask, “What evidence Doctor, where is it? We have not been shown any such evidence to support your claim though we have heard a lot of condemnation of the hospitality industry from you and your ilk”. I ask about evidence that the pubs are a hot bed of viral transmissions because, of course, they’ve been closed for the almost the complete duration of the virus. How was any such evidence collected? My own local shut back in March and has never re-opened. There was a short period when we flirted with pubs opening with nine euro piazzas being compulsory, if you wanted a pint, but that was short lived. We had more access to restaurants for a longer time but here too, the restrictions meant they were both financially and socially unviable.
But the pubs and restaurants when they were briefly open, insisted on masks, social distancing and hygiene and there was a limit to the duration of your stay. Does Dr Clíona Ní Cheallaigh adhere to the same high standards of restrictions in and out of Trinity. To coin a phrase, “We’ve seen no evidence that she does.” I might add that, “There was evidence that Schools and Universities were “significant sites” of the spread of the virus,” I mean, I haven’t seen conclusive evidence to the contrary, have you?
I think we all know that there are hundreds of business owners in the hospitality sector who have already gone to the wall. You don’t need proof or evidence to believe that. The hospitality sector is a fast moving cash business based on volumes, (of food or drink), by time. Most live close to the edge of profitability so for most the loss of a single weekend could put the whole business in the red. So you know that losing nine months has got to be a death knell for so many of them and with thousands of job loses as a result. In that light I say again that nobody in Public Health will lose a single high paying job during this pandemic or any other. One suspects that Dr Clíona Ní Cheallaigh is on a damned good wedge of taxpayers money and even if every single public house in the country is put out of business due to her advice, she will still be in permanent and pensionable employment when it is all over. So when she tells us today that, “The situation was heartbreaking given that pubs and restaurant owners had spent so much time and energy planning for a safe opening,” she had me reaching for the sick bag. She has absolutely no skin in the game whatsoever so her words are only so much condescending noise.
And this leads me to ask the other question, “How would it be if Public Health officials stood to lose by this?” Say, for example, the Government, (on our behalf for a change), were to say to Public Health as a whole, “OK folks, we are going to take your advice and keep the pubs and restaurants closed for Christmas, along with all of the other restrictions you’ve recommended we impose on the population. We will look at the daily numbers again in early January and if they have not gone down significantly, you are all out of a job, your pensions gone, the lot.” Imagine that!! “Clear out your desk, your last monthly payment will go through as usual and then make your own arrangements for another job and some private pension for yourselves.” So let me ask you, under those circumstances, do you think Public Health would be recommending the hospitality sector close for Christmas?
Of course, the above will not happen because one element of the entitled classes, (The Government), would never impose such a reality on another set of the entitled classes, (Senior Medical figures). They live collectively in the purified air of their own self made echo chamber where there is a high brow consensus on what is good for all the rest of us. From big Phil Hogan to the unmovable errant Judge to the staff at RTE, the rules for the ‘little people’ do not apply to them, (unless they are caught, and even then …..). The virus for them when it has passed will be just be another vague memory of some unpleasantness but it will have had no real impact on them.
And the idiot majority will be decimated by it and will have to pay for it all as usual.