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Editor's Viewpoint

Moves towards ending lockdown are more than welcome, but we must not take any chances with this deadly virus

Editor's Viewpoint


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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

PA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

This weekend marks 100 days since the first person died here from a coronavirus-related illness, and this is an opportune moment to take stock. 

The good news is that the Covid-19 death figures have fallen for the fifth week in a row, with the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency recording 757 in the week ending May 29.

Due to social distancing, frequent hand-washing and the cooperation of the large majority of people, as well as the heroic contributions by all NHS staff and other care and key workers, we are making steady progress in containing the virus.

The picture is similar in the Republic, where Taioseach Leo Varadkar has announced a number of welcome measures to accelerate the end of lockdown.

In Northern Ireland there are broadly similar plans, but without a declared time factor. This does not tie the Stormont authorities to pre-announced dates while retaining the flexibility to extend the lockdown or, if necessary, to reimpose restrictions.

However, there is a need for the utmost cooperation between the authorities in both jurisdictions to coordinate their measures in order to avoid confusion, particularly in border areas.

For example, it makes sense that hotels, restaurants and pubs are open to people who cross the border, and it is a nonsense if those travelling over cannot enjoy similar facilities in Donegal, Louth, Monaghan and Cavan and vice versa.

There is every likelihood that the pressure will increase from the hard-hit hospitality, retail and others sectors, which need much more conformity in the provisions and facilities available in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Significant progress has been made in both parts of the island but it is important that, although the lockdowns are being eased, people should still be wary of the deadly virus that is in our midst. There is a temptation, particularly among young people, to take chances. That is not an option. We are still all in this together.

Belfast Telegraph