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Have you had to field a few difficult questions regarding the guidelines being issued to try to halt the spread of Covid-19?

The fact that some people are confused by what they see as contradictory guidelines is not surprising. Back in March, the WHO stated at a press briefing that “there is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any potential benefit… ” Fast-forward to September, and people are being warned that they will be fined if they are caught without a mask in a supermarket.

I hope you have had the chance to enjoy a drink in a pub or a meal in a restaurant since that particular restriction was lifted. Now, in the most recent range of measures that were announced, you can still go to the pub, but only until 11.30pm, and that is subject to a maximum of six people at a table. Covid-19 obviously gets its second-wind around midnight.

And then there are the outdoor gatherings, which are now limited to a maximum of 15 people, but up to 50 people can attend a wedding, including the staff of the venue. So if these people go outdoors, can they only go outside 15 at a time?

Sporting venues are again closed to the public, but what is to stop 20 people taking their beers around to Dave’s place, high-fiving and hugging when a goal or try is scored, and then heading off to the restaurant, pub, etc?
The long-suffering over-70s, the people who benefit most from human contact, are being ‘asked’ to avoid unnecessary interaction.

I am still baffled by the regulation that says pubs can open, but only if they serve food. I was not aware that chicken curry and chips have a protective effect against SARS-CoV-2. “Private transport, such as private buses, can be used for tours and events”, says the Department of Health. Do these count as indoor or outdoor venues and will the maximum number of passengers be 15? They’ll have to disembark at some stage.

The advice, guidelines and diktats that people are being given are contradictory, confusing and are frankly almost impossible to enforce, despite the Government warning us with gravity that gardaí are being given ‘extra powers’ to enforce them.

This confusion leads to frustration that could result in a lack of motivation to comply, if people’s reactions on social media are anything to go by. If the Department wants the public to be on board, the restrictions have to make sense and be explained comprehensively.

Better hang onto those Perspex screens, just in case. Unless of course the WHO decides they are useless.

Pat Kelly, Editor
Pat Kelly, Editor

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Editor, Irish Pharmacist, GreenCross Publishing Ltd,
Top Floor, 111 Rathmines Road Lower, Dublin 6, D06K5F6.

Letter to the Editor RESPONSE
Re: Letter to the Editor regarding Fintan Moore’s column, ‘Experts — What do they know?’, July issue, from Ms Anna Davis, pharmacist

Dear Anna,
Thanks for your letter. We seem to be in the curious situation of being at loggerheads, despite both of us feeling that closing a pharmacy for lunch is a good thing to do. In my July column, I did say that back when I was an employee, I preferred jobs that paid me to work through lunch, but that was simply my own choice at the time, which was over 20 years ago. I coped fine with short breaks and snacking, and it suited me better than working in other pharmacies that had an unpaid hour off at lunchtime.

I don’t know what the stats are for which option most employees like better. When I eventually bought my own pharmacy, I wasn’t motivated by ‘personal profit’, but rather by fear — money is not my god, but I had a business loan, a mortgage and a family, so keeping the pharmacy open through lunch made perfect sense.
However, as I said in my article, when the pandemic crisis made the working days much more intense and pressurised, then it made perfect sense to close for an hour each day to regroup.  I’m somewhat perplexed by your criticism, given that the last line of my piece read: “The pressure has eased off now, but even when the pandemic crisis eventually passes, I’m more likely than not to keep shutting for lunch. There is an associated trading and financial loss, but I think the health and wellbeing benefits could be worth it.” We seem to be more in agreement than not.

Fintan Moore