Donegal is getting ready for Phase Two of lockdown exit - but with confidence or trepidation?

A view of life in Donegal through the coronavirus crisis by journalist Siobhán McNamara

Donegal is getting ready for Phase Two of lockdown exit - but with confidence or trepidation?

The Roadmap to Reopening Society and Business has worked so far - we are now getting ready for Phase Two

In a few days we will move to Phase Two of lockdown exit, or to give it its proper name, the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business.

Although the Roadmap was welcomed when it was first announced, there was also much trepidation about leaving the relative safety of lockdown. But that is wearing off as the daily numbers are announced. 

We are still sadly seeing some deaths on most days, and small numbers of new cases.

 Here in Donegal we have fared quite well with no new confirmed cases since May 19. But there are increasing reports of visitors from outside the area and increased traffic since we entered Phase One.

 So what will Phase Two bring, with people allowed to travel up to 20km from home?

Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to catching up with people I haven’t seen for months. There is even talk of being able to visit the homes of people who have been cocooning, albeit with masks and gloves. 

Many sporting activities are resuming as long as people can respect physical distancing.

But as I said in a previous column, complacency is the enemy of many a well-laid plan.

There certainly seems to be a need to lift morale and to boost the economy. And if we are doing such a good job of suppressing the virus, and if we can keep it at bay, then there should be nothing to worry about, right?

The niggle is the talk of a second wave, of a chance that while all the lockdown measures played an important role in suppressing the spread of the virus, that there may well also be a seasonal pattern emerging. 

In other words, will it come back in autumn or winter?

 We have been fortunate so far in that we could see what was happening in China and continental Europe before the virus took hold in Ireland. It didn’t take us by surprise in quite the same way. We learned from the hard lessons of others. 

But if it does prove to be seasonal - like its coronavirus cousin, the common cold - or the flu, could we be among the first to experience a second wave?

Some of the best minds in the field of medical research are working on finding a vaccine or cure, and that remains our best hope.

What we ourselves can do is not become complacent. We need to remember that this virus has not gone away.

We can certainly allow ourselves to enjoy the relaxing of restrictions, but we must hold on to the good habits developed over the last few months - physical distancing, frequent hand washing, respiratory hygiene, etc.

That is what will continue to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

Read next: A perfect mix of personal pilgrimage and family adventure

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