The Irony of Lockdown Criticizers

Northern Ireland returned into a full lockdown on 26th of December, and has continued to be in lockdown since. The country re-entered lockdown due to the expectation that the relieving of restrictions for Christmas would inevitably negatively affect the progress that Northern Ireland had made in terms of the pandemic. Obviously, this became a reality in January, which caused the 3rd wave, and the worst wave, of COVID 19 so far.

With all this in mind, how can there be so many people with Northern Ireland, who are pushing for the restrictions to be lifted and criticising the plan for easing restrictions because it has no date indicators. It seems that the citizens of Northern Ireland and the wider UK have a very short memory, considering that last summer, the health minister and the executive rushed exiting lockdown, resulting in a short-lived period of peace, and a huge rise in cases and deaths straight after. The sacrifices that we as a country didn’t make at that time, have resulted in much bigger sacrifices being necessary for our survival and the exit out of lockdown. However, this doesn’t seem to be acceptable to the majority, who have been disregarding lockdown rules from the beginning, and therein lies the irony.

I am lucky to be surrounded by people who are intelligent and socially aware enough to realise that these stringent lockdown measures are required and the sacrifices we have made will pay off in the long run. However, it is difficult to ignore those who have been almost nonchalant about their blatant disrespect for the restrictions, and indeed for the fellow citizens, those fighting for their lives, and those who are giving their lives to care for those affected. These same people sharing shallow and illegitimate conspiracies, convincing those less educated that the pandemic is nothing more than a politic tool, which is incredibly harmful and disenfranchising. These people are guilt of causing the most problems during this pandemic, while simultaneously criticizing the most responsible decision this executive has made since the beginning of this pandemic, and potentially even before that, of refusing to include dates in their lockdown exit plan.

The decision to not include dates in the lockdown exit plan, was very carefully considered. It was widely contested during the creation of this lockdown plan, and the conclusion that they came to was that if they were to include dates, as they did last year in the first and second wave of COVID 19, there would be more pressure from the public, and the dates may be reconsidered, and inevitably we would end up back where we are currently. This pandemic cannot be pushed out, it cannot be attacked, it must be handled carefully and it must be given respect. COVID 19 is going to a part of our lives for a long time, and the best way to reconcile with it, is to manage it in different ways. The idea that we can put a certain date of when all restrictions will be lifted, and when life will go back to normal disrespects this virus, it belittles it, we cannot predict how it reacts, and in that vein, we cannot schedule its departure.

The only thing I can say to those people who are criticising this decision, is that in some ways it gives us more freedom and more hope. If Northern Ireland as a nation, follows lockdown restrictions, gets vaccinated when it is available to them and respects this pandemic, we will meet the requirements outlined in the exit plan, and life will begin to go back to normal. Your energy is misplaced attacking the executive, because they will not change their stance on this, redirect that energy to doing your part, even if you haven’t been through this pandemic. The irony of your actions has been blinding.

22, Social Policy Graduate, UK based.