As the old saying goes, ‘we both knew this day would come’. Covid is now beginning to fade in the rear-view mirror. It was never going to be a permanent fixture and we all knew that when the dust settled, it would be time to assess the wider damage to society and health, some easily foreseen (mental health, socio-economic impacts, etc), and some perhaps unforeseen.
As reported in this issue, there has been a significant shift in our society’s approach to alcohol consumption during the pandemic due to lockdowns, working from home, and so on. Alcohol has of course long been a part of our culture, but I would suggest that it was historically considered more as a ‘social lubricant’, rather than a habit in the home. In 2020, total alcohol consumption in Ireland fell by only 6 per cent, despite licensed premises being closed for 40 weeks. This clearly suggests that drinking has gone ‘underground’. Whether that will be affected by the minimum unit pricing initiative or not is another unknown.
We are at the beginning of the period where we can pick up the pieces and start counting the cost of the past two years, as well as assessing the flexibility and innovations that helped keep the healthcare system ticking over. Let’s hope the positives balance-out the negatives.