Businesses reopen today.
The country turns the page in two significant ways today. A new, once unimaginable, government takes office, while some businesses reopen, albeit in limited ways. It is difficult to decide which of those developments is more important.
Good governance is an aspiration, but unless Covid-19’s grip is broken, this government will be limited in its effectiveness. We do not control destiny as completely as we believe.
Today’s reopening of some businesses puts the ball firmly in society’s court: Government, health workers, and advisers will look on, hoping that the discipline shown heretofore in the war against Covid-19 is maintained.
That hope is sharpened as world infections pass 10m and as areas of Germany, South Korea, Italy, and China fight a resurgent plague.
That Irish experts warn that a second wave is likely underlines that we are just on a different timetable to those countries. If discipline is not maintained, Taoiseach Micheál Martin may be forced to impose fresh restrictions on movement.
Nevertheless, restaurants and some pubs, hairdressers, and barbers can reopen today. Most will, some will not.
These businesses need to reopen to generate income and support staff. That means walking a high wire with a safety net of questionable reliability below.
Rejuvenating businesses while suppressing the pandemic is a huge, almost unprecedented challenge.
Unless need and risk are balanced, unless we are rigorously responsible, then we invite a new calamity.
Once again, that old Hill Street Blues advice seems appropriate: Be careful out there.