Another key step on the road to post Covid normality in Northern Ireland

News Letter editorial of Friday January 21 2022:

By Editorial
Friday, 21st January 2022, 8:32 am
Updated Friday, 21st January 2022, 8:34 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

There has been much to lament about the last two years, not least the number of people at home and abroad who have died with coronavirus.

They will not be the last.

It has been a gruelling period, with normal life put on hold for almost everything, amid a widespread sense of anxiety and huge financial and emotional cost.

But now, as we approach the second anniversary of the March 2020 first lockdown, Stormont has endorsed the first of a two-stage plan to remove Northern Ireland’s Covid rules.

The end to the closure of nightclubs will mostly only be of interest to younger people, but is symbolically significant.

Apart from anything else, the lifting of the ban puts an end to one of the great injustices that has marked this pandemic – that some people and business sectors are ordered to abandon their livelihoods by politicians and scientists and medics who are generously paid by the taxpayer.

More importantly though, the lifting of the rules is a reflection of the fact that Omicron has panned out far, far less seriously than was feared. It has been highly infectious but has had minor health impacts.

This is a time to celebrate the success of the vaccine programme, above all in the United Kingdom — a country of which we are lucky to be a part given that is a global scientific leader and played a key role in developing the medications.

It is also a time to recognise the way in which the great bulk of people have, cheerfully enough, adapted to the new considerate ways of living in a pandemic.

This experience will almost certainly help us to respond much more quickly to any future viral outbreak. Many people, for example, will want to continue to wear masks even when they cease to be mandatory.

It might yet be that there is fresh, more dangerous outbreak of Covid. But we can no longer put life on hold due to that possibility.

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