‘We cannot continue with these stop-start scenarios’ – Fitzmaurice

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice said he believes that “hastily deciding to re-enter a full Covid-19 lockdown would cripple the entire country” and that “we cannot continue with these stop-start scenarios”.

It is understood that cabinet is currently meeting to finalise plans for further restrictions to be put in place.

Alternative options are available and must be examined before we get to that level, the Roscommon-Galway TD said this afternoon (Monday, October 19).

Speaking on the topic, he added: “At the moment, we are at a very fine line in this country. People are basically at the end of their tether, having put in a huge effort to date to combat this virus.

It is my opinion that there are certain things which we could do that would help the situation without crippling the rest of the economy.

“For instance, off licences could be closed and I would actually have pubs open until 10:00pm at night with no take-away drink available. I believe this would help stop a lot of the house parties and a lot of the domestic problems that have arisen in recent weeks.”

Effect on mental health

Deputy Fitzmaurice says the public must remember that, whether the country is in Level 1 or Level 5, the “only way we are going to reduce numbers is through a buy-in from communities and people adhering to the regulations”.

“And it is up to every individual to make an effort to try and flatten this curve,” he continued.

Another stringent lockdown would have grave consequences when it comes to peoples’ mental health and general physical health. These people, when speaking to them on the ground, are very much opposed to more stringent measures coming in.

“As a country, we also have to balance the economy. We cannot continue with these stop-start scenarios, especially when it comes to businesses – otherwise they won’t survive.

“Plus, what is the plan after the lockdown if the government press the nuclear button? What happens then? Are we still going to see a rise in cases and is it going to be yo-yoing in and out of lockdowns for the foreseeable future?

“While medical personnel are experts in their chosen field, there are a lot more parameters to consider when making decisions which impact the entire country.”

‘Money has been thrown at the HSE to combat this virus’

Deputy Fitzmaurice said a problem he has is that “since March, money has been thrown at the HSE to combat this virus”.

“It was flagged very early on by the experts, in fairness, that additional beds would be required leading into the winter period. But it appears that no matter how much money you throw at the HSE – whether it be for testing, contact tracing or required infrastructure – it cannot get its house in order,” he said.

“This is a real worry, as I have not seen as much money being thrown at a single body without adequate results being achieved. And this is not the fault of frontline workers, it is those higher up who seem to be dropping the ball on this.”