The Executive has published its long-awaited Pathway Out of Restrictions plan and the phrase 'once bitten, twice shy' springs immediately to mind.
Even before the document was released yesterday afternoon, health service sources were warning that officials and the Executive were wary of lifting restrictions too quickly, citing the devastation wreaked on hospitals as a result of Christmas as the reason for a slow and steady approach. And that is exactly what our politicians have opted for.
Stressing the need for caution at the Assembly yesterday, deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said: "We will all benefit from getting this right." The plan has, however, already come in for criticism. The chief executive of the Belfast Chamber, Simon Hamilton, has bemoaned the absence of indicative dates in the document, while the DUP's Paul Givan has hit out at the phased return for schools.
There may be some merit to providing preliminary timescales for the various stages of the plan - undoubtedly this would provide clarity for the various sectors struggling from the effects of successive lockdowns, as well as an additional boost for the public. But the refusal to provide this detail makes it very clear that the Executive will not be pushed into making premature decisions that may allow the virus to spread out of control again. And who can blame them?
The vaccination programme is being rolled out at pace and there is increasing evidence to suggest that the number of people becoming seriously ill from Covid-19 is dropping significantly as a result. But caution is still required - there are still many who have not had the vaccine, while the threat looms large of variants and the possibility that they could be more infectious or resistant to the vaccines.
At the same time, the health service is still reeling from the effects of the latest surge - there are too many Covid patients in hospital, the NHS workforce is exhausted and hundreds of new cases are still being diagnosed every day.
Looking back to the start of June when the restrictions were lifted after the first lockdown, four people tested positive in one day. Fast forward to the end of September, when pupils had been back in class for just one month, and there had been a 6,375% rise in daily cases. The virus began to rage out of control over the following months to the point that more than 1,000 cancer operations have been cancelled this year alone as the health service has struggled to cope with demand.
The aim of this roadmap is to allow society in Northern Ireland to rebuild but there is an abundance of evidence to prove that Covid-19 does not adhere to our schedule.
So, while we begin to make our way out of lockdown, timescales and concrete assurances about the future will have to wait.