Psychologist advises Cork City Hall on measure to alleviate public's fears about reopening

A psychologist is advising the Cork city centre CORE partnership on the phased reopening of the city.
Psychologist advises Cork City Hall on measure to alleviate public's fears about reopening
A shot of a very quiet St Patrick's Street in Cork City. Photo: Larry Cummins

A psychologist is advising the Cork city centre CORE partnership on the phased reopening of the city.

City Hall has asked the expert to identify what fears people will have about returning to cities as the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

It is hoped the input will help the city council and the CORE partners, including businesses and Bus Eireann, to introduce the right blend of measures to demonstrate to the public that the risk of infection has been minimised to the greatest extent possible and instill confidence in those measures.

The CORE group is due to meet today and begin discussions on what is expected to be a radical overhaul of movement in and interaction with the city centre to ensure physical distancing.

Members of the council's Corporate Policy Group will be briefed on progress later.

It could be another week or two before detailed proposals are ready for discussion by full council.

Pedestrianisation will play a major role, along with increased space for pedestrians and cyclists. But city chiefs face a difficult balancing act with public transport capacity significantly reduced.

Bus Eireann's restricted timetable and physical distancing on its fleet have reduced its passenger carrying capacity across the city's suburban network by up to 90%.

While the timetable returns to normal over the coming weeks, enduring physical distancing requirements will leave the city's bus fleet with just 25% of its pre-Covid-19 passenger capacity.

CORE member and Green Party leader on the city council, Cllr Dan Boyle, said Bus Eireann is disinfecting its vehicles to ensure people have confidence in the network.

But he said he has yet to see details on the wider transport and movement changes which are being considered.

"We are still waiting to hear about the extent of what's proposed and we have yet to see the 'where and how' but we need to follow the WHO guidelines," he said.

"These are emergency measures that will mean narrower roads, traffic being discouraged from some roads, more one-way systems, and they will be difficult for people to take all in one go.

"There will be an element of trial and error to this, and a fair degree of adjustment will be required."

But he said there are indications that suggestions the party made two weeks ago in writing to council chief executive, Ann Doherty, have been taken on board.

The Green Party has suggested talks with large employers about staggering work start times, to reduce rush-hour traffic volumes, the opening of pedestrian and bike access to Tramore Valley Park through the council's service entrance on Half Moon Lane, and the introduction of a one-way pedestrian route around the Lough amenity.

"That's the type of thinking we need to have," Mr Boyle said.

Meanwhile, Independent Cllr Ken O'Flynn has called for a task-force to be established, with strong input from business owners, to help get the city and county back to work.

"We did it when Ford's and Dunlops closed and we need to do it now," he said.

He said business owners are at the coalface of this crisis and know better than anyone what will be required over the coming months and their voices must be heard.

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