What to do when lockdown doesn’t spare your island nation from COVID-19?

more lockdown. Just off a WhatsApp call with a friend in Ireland. The mostly-island nation has been mostly locked down since March. After six months of lockdown and 14-day quarantine for anyone returning or coming in, what’s new with our favorite virus? The #Scientists have recommended that the country go into “level 5” lockdown in which nobody can be more than a short distance from his/her/zir/their home. More or less everything will be closed except for schools (I explained that, in the U.S., science tells us that the schools are the first thing to close, not the last!).

“Coronavirus: ‘Act now to prevent lockdown’, Irish PM warns” (BBC):

In a televised address, he confirmed that level three restrictions would be imposed nationwide from Wednesday.

The move rejects a recommendation by public health experts to impose the strictest level five measures.

Mr Martin said moving to level five could have “severe implications”.

“If we all act now we can stop the need to go further, with introducing level four and five restrictions,” he continued.

The taoiseach said this would risk hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Does the failure of lockdown thus far to contain the virus shake anyone’s faith in lockdown? “No,” said my friend. “People say that the lockdowns haven’t worked because not everyone adhered completely to the lockdown.”

What did he think of these policies? “The problem with listening to NPHET [National Public Health Emergency Team] is that they have only one brief: COVID-19. They can’t tell you how to balance other interests.” (This is the same point I made in Looking at Covid-19 death rate is like the old saying “An economist is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”?:

Is asking an epidemiologist whether to keep schools and playgrounds open like asking your accountant whether you should buy a dog? Yes, the expert can give you a bit of insight (“my other clients with dogs spend $4,000 per year on vet, food, and grooming”), but not a life-optimizing answer.

If Ireland, a small island nation, can’t control COVID-19, is the U.S. kidding itself?

For maximum health, my hotel breakfast in Cork, Ireland in 2019:

A place for Corkers(?) to pray to the God of Shutdown:

Kilkenny, a rare glimpse of COVID-19-killing UV light:

Now-illegal gathering in Kinsale:

At what point can the Irish say that their multi-month lockdown has failed and it is time to try something different, e.g., what I proposed in a comment on Transmission of coronaplague among the fully masked Japanese:

Masks Reduce Viral Load Enthusiasts: If you’re right, why drag out the “light load immunity development” for several years, as the U.S. is doing by combining masks with shutdown? Why not fill sports stadiums with (a) sick people who can cough out virus unmasked, and (b) healthy people who will wear masks and absorb healing immunity-building light viral loads? After a couple of weeks of this, how could coronavirus possibly thrive in the U.S.? Also, reopen workplaces, gyms, schools, etc., and actively encourage anyone who is sick to continue coming in amongst the masked healthy.

(Separately, if masks and feverish sanitizing and most-things-shut-down work, why is there a raging common cold epidemic in Boston right now? How did the cold virus manage to get through all of these barriers we’ve set up?)

Is there any standard for declaring lockdown/masks a failure?


  • WHO dashboard (Ireland has about half the COVID-19-tagged death rate of the U.S. or U.K.)
  • Irish plan for checkpoints to restrict mobility: More than 2,500 Garda members are set to be deployed as part of a policing surge across the Republic in response to all parts of the State being upgraded to Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions, with major traffic congestion anticipated due to the impact of so-called super checkpoints. Gardaí have said they believe traffic congestion, especially on the approaches to Dublin and within the city and county, will be very heavy. They were hopeful the delays would prove so long it would discourage people leaving their home county and encourage them to work from home. Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said 132 permanent static checkpoints would be established on motorways and other main arterial routes across the country, as well as thousands of mobile checkpoints erected for short periods before moving elsewhere.

4 thoughts on “What to do when lockdown doesn’t spare your island nation from COVID-19?

  1. Ed gets it. Ireland seems to be a go hard on the people test case. Ask the people who wear the mask when they are going to stop wearing the mask. The answer is never, they have no free will left in them.

  2. If Wikipedia is to be believed, a resident of Cork is a Corkonian Leesider.

    > People say that the lockdowns haven’t worked because not everyone adhered completely to the lockdown

    This is like saying that everyone could lose weight if only they ate less and exercised more. Even if it is literally true, it isn’t very helpful. It’s like saying if you want to win a race you should run faster.

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