Longford Leader Opinion: It’ll be lonely this Christmas if NPHET doesn't make a few changes

Jessica Thompson

Reporter:

Jessica Thompson

Email:

jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

Christmas

Christmas could well be a testing time for a lot of households this year due to social distancing parameters

Last week, it was reported that chairperson of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), Dr Cillian DeGascun was “remaining positive” that restrictions on family gatherings will be eased by Christmas.

Right now we’re allowed to have gatherings of six people inside and 15 outside, with the government planning to review these restrictions on September 13.

Christmas is a particularly lonely time for a lot of people who may have lost loved ones around that time of year, or who may lose out on spending time with family because that family member’s household already has, or exceeds six people.

And what about family members flying home from far flung parts of the world to celebrate the festive season with loved ones they haven’t been allowed to visit since the pandemic began?

It seems quite cruel to tell them they can’t come home or to tell someone they can’t have the annual family Christmas dinner because their extended family amounts to double the number of people you’re “allowed” to have in your house.

People are getting tired. They’ve been so patient all year. They’ve spent the best part of 2020 being careful, observing correct etiquette, wearing masks, forgoing their summer holiday, festivals, weekend get togethers in the pub and avoiding the vulnerable members of society.

Chances are people will have their annual family gatherings, restrictions be damned. Look what happened in Killarney less than a fortnight ago. People are starting to break the rules and get back to living their lives.

Christmas won’t be any different. People will have their celebrations whether NPHET gives them permission or not.

So is Cillian DeGascun staying positive because he thinks NPHET will be able to ease restrictions? Or is he promising an ease in restrictions so that the inevitable social gatherings won’t be labelled as disobedience or a rebellion ?