ÚLTIMA HORA SOBRE EL COVID-19
Por: Aintzane Legarreta Mentxaka
All is good here. Ireland was in a ‘soft Lockdown’ for the previous ten days (the closure of schools, and cancellation of state-sponsored art/public events, perhaps constituting the most dramatic measures). Ireland has gone into a tighter lockdown starting from today, 25 March, and ending 19th April. This means that all non-essential work will be suspended or carried out from home when possible, and people are only permitted to leave their homes for grocery/medication collection, or to exercise, or to assist people affected. All meetings of 4 or more people indoors are to be suspended, and outdoors they will be dispersed by the Gardai/police. In terms of the emergency official response, interestingly for an interim Fine Gael government which is resolutely conservative, and on the neoliberal free-market capitalist ideological spectrum, a number of progressive emergency measures were announced yesterday, including: all private hospitals are being nationalised, all unemployed by the crisis have been granted a continuation of 2/3 of their salaries (with a cap in assistance for those on higher salaries), and rents have been frozen and evictions made illegal. Needless to say, these measures are temporary.
((to explain ‘interim’: Irish elections ousted the current Irish government just before the covid-19 crisis, and by law until the new government is formed Fine Gael continues at the helm) (as for Fine Gael’s conservatism, a key foundational group for the party whas the ‘blue shirts’ association set up to help the Francoist side in the Spanish Civil War)).
Ireland has a comparatively low rate of covid-19 infections at the moment: 1,125 cases confirmed, and 6 fatalities (source: RTE state broadcaster online: 2/404/2020 www.rte.ie/news/coronavirus/2020/0324/1124971-coronavirus-covid19-ireland/). The safety measures to date –social distancing etc– have been explicitly concerned with delaying the spread of the virus, in order to facilitate the run of the medical services. As you know, the same aim has been declared by official health authorities in other countries.