‘Nightmare Scenario’


The Oliver Saint John Gogarty pub in Dublin

This morning.

The Irish Times reports:

The possibility that pubs may not reopen until a vaccine for Covid-19 has been found has been described as a “nightmare scenario” by the body that represents Dublin publicans.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) said many pubs would be put out of business permanently if such a lengthy closure occurred.

It was commenting after Heineken Ireland put its staff on a four-day week for two months due to the fall-off in demand for its beer products.

…Minister for Health Simon Harris said at the weekend he could not see how people could return to “packed pubs” as long as the virus was still in the community and in the absence of a vaccine.


Most pubs will ‘close for good’ if lockdown lasts to 2021, vintners say (The Irish Times)



On Today with Seán O’Rourke this morning…

Noel Anderson, managing director of Lemon & Duke and vice-chairman of Licensed Vintners’ Association told Mr O’Rourke:

“All our staff, and we’re delighted for them, are currently being looked after to a point. They’re getting the €350 payment a week. But businesses haven’t been really looked after yet, in my opinion.

“And in certain areas, we’ve been left high and dry. So we feel like we’ve done our bit and we will get to where we need to be but we’re gonna need grants.

“Nobody needs a loan. Rates is currently being deferred. You’re only making the problem worse for when you open, so we’re going to need grants not loans. And then when we do open, we’re going to need massive tax assistance.”

Mr Anderson added:

“I would like to see the Government work with us a little bit better. I was pretty disappointed to read in a Sunday newspaper what was said…like, let’s sit down and have a chat about what social distancing looks like, what financial assistance looks like. Let’s not be reading it over our Cornflakes.”

Listen back in full here

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44 thoughts on “‘Nightmare Scenario’

  1. sert

    our government have been their expected useless selves for the last 2 months. No plan, knee jerk reactions to everything and the treatment of those in nursing homes is bordering on manslaughter

    1. f_lawless

      Can’t hep but feeling Harris is a dangerous unqualified spoofer. Seems like his main role now is bolster the credibility of the extreme measures imposed by the government , which in reality were made without any basis of reliable data, effectively painting the government into a corner.

      Were our health officials and politicians swept up in a global “information cascade” as this article postulates?

      “…The result was what social scientists call ‘an information cascade’. A radical shift in ideas and beliefs driven not by carefully assessed and evaluated data but rather by uncritically embraced observation and reinforcement of the views of others. In an information cascade, the actions and decisions of everyone else become more important than evidence you are directly acquainted with let alone your own judgement.”

      1. :-Joe

        Ye, and an apologetic mess… I’m not sure which or maybe all, but he’s either useless, incompetant and/or more worried about appearences showing that he really does care about humans more than numbers and he’s not hypothetically, another F-f/g evil heartless villain… than he is about showing backbone, initiative and leadership and making any decisions that are not put to him as an urgent basic necessity.

        A soggy bog-roll fished out of a toilet, hanging on the end of a coat hanger could have done the same job because let’s face it, what else can he do? The current system itself is not capable and will not allow enough of the required due care and process for the public good as a priority.

        The delay in focusing on nursing homes is a prime example.
        – Just as the song goes.. “Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor” etc.


      2. Donnchadh

        It’s ironic that the article by Cohen enthusiastically diagnoses a bias of overconfidence in so many others, given how little self-doubt the author displays. Note that he doesn’t suggest that the consensus might be wrong, or that it might be based on inaccurate data or flawed models: he simply assumes this to the be case.

        And some of his arguments are, frankly, bizarre. For instance, he cites the fact that a little over two thousand people had died in Europe of C19 by mid-March as evidence that the lockdowns being brought in then were being driven by hysteria. A month later, despite the lockdowns that total has increased fifty-fold. You might think that would give him pause for thought, but not a bit of it.

        The thing is, there are genuinely interesting heterodox and contrarian arguments to be made that the consensus view is based on limited or even flawed data and is risking extreme economic and social damage. In fact, I would be very surprised if later on the consensus is not revealed to have been wrong in important respects – and I say that as someone who thinks, based on my limited and non-expert reading, that the response from most governments in Europe was correct in the circumstances. But that kind of argument is not at all the same as airly dismissing your opponents as trapped in groupthink and blindly following what their reptilian brains tell them.

        1. f_lawless

          “Note that he doesn’t suggest that the consensus might be wrong, or that it might be based on inaccurate data or flawed models: he simply assumes this to the be case”

          I can only assume you skirted over the article without reading it properly – it is quite long, may a bit too long – because he devotes a sizable portion to the paper produced by Prof. Neil Ferguson and his team at Imperial College in London.

          This paper, which recommended radical lockdown measures as a solution, was highly influential on the UK and US responses to the virus, in particular, and was instrumental in establishing a consensus that the ‘Italian model’ for dealing with the virus was the universal solution.

          But, as the article details, this paper(which was never even peer-reviewed) was for one thing, fundamentally flawed in it’s calculations of the Case Fatality Rate. The ‘Diamond Princess’ cruise ship was used as a case study on which a CFR was modeled, but crucially it failed to take into account that most of the passengers were elderly. Ferguson made the alarmist prediction at the time that at least 500,000 could die in the UK alone..

          1. D

            there were (at least) five separate predictions in the ICL document. you can see the chart halfway down here.

            ftalphaville ft com/2020/03/17/1584439125000/That-Imperial-coronavirus-report–in-detail-/

            why are you only mentioning the ‘do nothing’ one?

            (this is my second attempt at posting this link)

          2. Donnchadh

            Hi f_lawless,
            Thanks for the reply. Did you read my full comment? I specifically noted that I expected the consensus about the coronavirus to be wrong in various respects. It would be astonishing if it wasn’t – it’s been put together based on limited and at times downright flawed data, fed through models that have to make important untested assumptions. Some of these assumptions will undoubtedly turn out to be flawed – indeed, some of them have already been revealed as such. If that was all Cohen had claimed, I would have had little objection to his article.

            On the ‘alarmist’ Imperial College study, it predicted a UK death toll of 500,000 if (in effect) nothing was done in response to the virus. It made various other predictions based on different responses. It estimated that if the most comprehensive measures it considered were put in place, the death toll could be kept to about 20,000. Looking at current UK figures, that estimate doesn’t seem that far off – in fact, it will probably trn out to be a little optimistic.

            To be clear – I am not claiming that this means that with can say with confidence that the 500,000-if-nothing-was-done estimate would have been correct. But to show that it woud not have been correct is difficult to do, given that (thankfully, imo) the UK decided to act. And (this is the really crucial bit) if you think states should have acted differently, on which data and which models is that claim based? What reason have we to think that they are more reliable?

          3. Donnchadh

            I went back to check the disucssion of the Diamond Princess data in Cohen’s article.
            From the article:
            “Eventually, of the 3,711 passengers and crew aboard, some 700 tested positive. Seven people died. This was rapidly adopted as the benchmark ‘case fatality rate’ – 1.0% – (Ferguson uses 0.9%) but doing so ignored the crucial fact that the this was not a normal mix of people but instead a largely elderly population, in which the death rate from Covid-19 was bound to be much higher”

            First, a minor point: seven passengers had died after contracting the virus when Ioannidis wrote his article. Since then the number has risen to 12 (Wiki). That’s just sloppy from Cohen.
            Second, and more importantly, Cohen clearly suggests here that Ferguson based his CFR estimate on the Diamond Princess data, but this does not seem to be correct. Here is the Imperial College report: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf
            On p. 5 the IFR (not CFR) the report is assuming is given as 0.9%, and the source is given as Verity et al, ‘Estimates of the severity of COVID-19 disease’. That paper is based on data both from inside and China outside China – so not only using data from the Diamond Princess.
            Third, in this passage Cohen clearly suggests that Ferguson overlooked the age profile of the Diamond Princess passengers. It may be that Verity et al did make this mistake (I haven’t read that paper), but it certainly does not seem that Ferguson did so. Immediately after mentioning the IFR and citing Verity et al, the report includes a table estimating the different hospitalisation and fatality ratios for different age groups.
            Again, to be clear, I am not saying that the Imperial Report was not flawed – tbh, I don’t have the expertise to make an informed judgement on it. But I don’t think Cohen succeeded in showing it to be flawed.

          4. f_lawless

            This isn’t the best medium to debate at length differences of opinion about how one might interpret the unfolding Covid-19 situation. And it’s too late in the evening to reply to all your points.

            You say:
            “It estimated that if the most comprehensive measures it considered were put in place, the death toll could be kept to about 20,000. Looking at current UK figures, that estimate doesn’t seem that far off”

            I don’t think there’s a solid scientific basis to make that assumption. Correlation does not imply causation. For one thing, predictions about the effectiveness of the lockdown measures were made without taking into account the strong possibility that the virus was already significantly widespread, but undetected, among the UK population. According to a group of researchers at Oxford University, half of Britain may have already been infected and a substantial level of “herd immunity”acquired through the unrecognised spread of the illness. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus-half-uk-population-oxford-university-study-finds-a4396721.html

            That was back in March. Separate to that, another Oxford Professor, Carl Heneghan, epidemiologist, has yesterday stated that according to current available data , the virus actually peaked a week BEFORE the lockdown measures were put in place, which according to him, means they were “unnecessary” and should be lifted,.


            “Professor Heneghan cited Sweden as an example of a country that had “kept its cool” by resisting the lockdown and was not suffering from an “apocalyptic scenario”.

            He urged the government to reopen the company, warning that the restrictions would have a serious impact on the economy and the mental and physical health of people.”

            “if you think states should have acted differently, on which data and which models is that claim based? “

            I think that’s a fallacy of reasoning on your behalf. If we agree that there was an absence of reliable data on which to base a plan of action, then there isn’t an onus on those experts who are judging the lockdown measures to be scientifically unsound to produce data or models on which to devise a new plan. Having said that, perhaps as the professor suggests, something akin to Sweden’s course of action? The sky hasn’t fallen in there and they haven’t tanked their economy

          5. Donnchadh

            Thanks for the further reply f_lawless.

            Re the passage you quote from my comment, I am not assuming that correlation implies causation. You claimed that the Imperial College model’s predictions for a no-reaction scenario were ‘alarmist’ – I pointed out that its predictions for what has actually happened look like they are broadly correct. This provides some, albeit limited, evidence, that the model was on the right track.

            You suggest that there was a ‘strong possibility’ that the virus was already widespread, and cite Gupta’s study as evidence. Of course, this study may turn out to have been correct, but it has been vigorously criticised as itself based on speculative assumptions and working with a limited data set (e.g., https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2020/03/26/1585245384000/Let-s-flatten-the-coronavirus-confusion-curve/ ).

            This is germane to your final paragraph. There is no course of action which we can assume to be the default until we have gathered all the evidence we need to change our minds. It’s one thing to say ‘The lockdown might not be necessary’, it’s another to say ‘We should abandon the lockdown’. To argue for the latter requires marshalling evidence, and that evidence must be scrutinised just as the evidence supporting the lockdown should be scrutinised.

            Lastly, if the evidence changes – if, say, Carl Heneghan has produced new reasons to think that the lockdown measures are not making a difference – then policies should change in response.

          6. D

            The Oxford paper you mention arrived at it’s half infected population estimate on the basis 1 in 1000 cases would require hospitalisation. If you go to major population centers, NY, Milan, Madrid, London and put in that figure against the number of hospital deaths with covid, that shows that in those cities, more than their entire population has been infected, way past population levels, never mind ‘herd immunity’ levels.

            Indeed, using the Oxford estimate, there would be something like 13000 aboard the Diamond Princess, this gives an indication as to how badly this hits the eldery.

            Sweden has five to ten times the death rate of its nearest neighbours and its statistics from Stockholm put it among the worst performing, aged, population dense cities in the EU.

            What’s worse is the statistics cannot be accurate and will not be accurate for many months, it is highly irresponsible for the Oxford academics to call for an end to lockdowns.

            I am not looking forward to reading the case fatality rates from medical staff who actually have to deal with this virus and have access to testing, as the results will be grim.

    2. :-Joe

      +100%.. Clearly, I must be one of the most stupid individuals around because I had falsely assumed the most vunerable in nursung homes were already as safe as possible and locked up tight from the start?
      – So stupid, that I’ve only just heard how bad the situation appears to be in reality just over the last weekend…

      It’s almost as if, my memory of Irish political history was temporarily wiped clean. Wait, what in the hell was I thinking?…
      – It’s all completely true to form and the kind of expected normal mode of behaviour from the duopoly of F-f/g!… Out-witted again. Basturds!!…

      The pubs will open soon enough, it’s just a necessary cry for attention… Otherwise we’ll end up with a prohibition-era slew of speakeasy’s and jazz clubs making a comeback.


  2. Gabby

    Indeed. Customers could queue, socially distanced, outside their locals for freshly pulled pints. Some street furniture might need to be placed to facilitate sit-down customers. Those who live nearby would be allowed to take their precious pints home provided they pay a deposit on the glass. Strictly No Glasses No Pints policy to conserve glasses.

  3. Nilbert

    what if every pub could become a local circus cooperative for hipsters where people could learn how to juggle, play the ukulele, and screen print pictures of the pigeon house?

    There could be kimchee improv sessions, and yoga for dogs.

  4. Andrew

    Might this crisis see a permanent change in our attitude to booze entirely? Might not be a bad thing if it does?
    I like a few pints as much as the next man, but maybe peope will be more moderate in their consumption in the future?

    1. Janet, I ate my avatar

      judging by bottle banks I’d say the Irish are drinking more at this time and not healthy social drinking, drinking at home in the pyjamas drinking

      1. Gabby

        Parents might ask their teenage children to use their Chemistry knowledge to distill alternative booze using varieties like King Edward and Kerr’s Pink, Queens and Golden Wonder.

      2. Rob_G

        Drinking at home in your pyjamas is no more or less healthy than ‘social drinking’; in either case, the important thing is how much alcohol is consumed.

        1. some old queen

          I disagree.

          People drinking at home tend to drink more because there is less social interaction. Irish pubs serve a social purpose as well as selling alcohol and that community element has been completely overlooked.

          But more importantly- for good reason, after 9 there is no children on the premises and what some are witnessing in the homes right now is not good for them.

          1. Cian

            It depends on the pub.
            A lot of pubs in Dublin are too loud for “social interaction” and are more about squeezing as many people as possible in and them drinking as much as possible.

            Auld man’s pubs are an exception.

          2. Janet, I ate my avatar

            I’m just an auld man pub kinda girl, love The Oval for a cheeky quiet one or the snug up in Doheny’s

          3. some old queen

            @ Cian- in the city centers yes but since the smoking ban, most pubs have diversified and also serve food- the standard of which is usually very good. As a rule of thumb, punters are drinking less and eating out more- in both bars and pubs.

            It depends on how you measure public health but people afraid to go to a hospital for needed treatment or being cooked up every day in sometimes difficult family circumstances is going to have a detrimental impact on their health.

            The guards acting like pricks doesn’t help either of course.

        2. Janet, I ate my avatar

          I don’t really care if you drink it bollik nudie in your garden covered in jam, my point was like everything one does at home it tends to be less regulated in quantity and consistency, etc

      3. :-Joe

        Booze sales is up 58% on same time as last year accorfing to supermarket report off the radio..
        – Like all stats these days, who knows and if accurate, suprised it’s not more in fairness…

        Personally, I’m drinking a lot less than ususal to be honest.. Now, only one pint of post-coital, non-major corporate brand, plain porter with my porridge instead of two and a whiskey chaser in the mornings…

        Immune system and iron defficiency etc.


    2. Dav

      Reading the Sunday Times’ editorial on the matter yesterday, it doesn’t look likely… basically amounted to saying “sure, there’ll be an increase in social problems from drinking at this time, but let’s not let a few bad apples ruin it for everyone else”

      1. george

        I’d say there will be a decrease in social problems. There’ll also be a decrease in emergency room admissions related to drinking.

    3. scottser

      i can see the new pub arrangements with individual booths and table service by staff in hazmat suits. if you want to chat someone up you have to go the that chat up area, which looks like prison visiting areas behind glass with phones. entertainment is provided by artists performing from home over zoom. smoking areas won’t change – smokers are gonna die anyway – but they will have to get used to being sprayed with bleach every 45 minutes.

      1. some old queen

        Smokers are less likely to catch CoVid-19 scotty- same as most other viruses. But when they do catch something, they obviously take longer to recover.

        Oh- and EVERYONE is going to die, it is just a matter of when.

  5. Rosette of Sirius

    My issue with pubs opening too early is two fold. Firstly, with even a few pints in drinkers, inhibitions will be out the window along with social distancing. That’s even before chucking out time and the probability of a lot of very drunk people on the streets looking for a kebab. And secondly, toilets. Many pubs lack even the most basic of hygiene standards. Hot water and soap for example and a functional hand dryer for that matter.

    1. george

      Social distancing is impossible in pubs full stop. Drinking or not. unless you know a pub with 2 metre diameter tables and 2 metres between each table plus 4 metres between the tables and the bar.

  6. some old queen

    Harris is displaying his inexperience and immaturity big time.

    He has absolutely no data to suggest that this would be necessary and is creating undue stress and worry for a section of the business community when there is no need for it. It is like he feels he personally pulled this lock down off and is pushing his luck now. He may need to be reminded that this happened by public consent and given the disgraceful airport carry on- that could be withdrawn very quickly.

    He is also making a very big assumption that the only way out of this pandemic is through a vaccine. There is three drug treatments in trails at the moment and if any of them prove to be effective, they will be no need for a vaccine for those who are not high risk. Likewise if it turns out that a majority have already been exposed and are immune.

    1. george

      A vaccine will always be preferable. So there will not be no need. Having the entire world taking an antiviral forever isn’t really practical.

      1. some old queen

        A vaccine is not preferable if there are serious side effects or permanent damage- swine flu vaccine for example.

        We know this thing is curable because many people are clearing it without medical intervention already. Therefore any successful treatment would act as an assistance to others to cure themselves- not like HIV where as yet, there is none.

        1. edrof

          If you want to go to the pub and risk any elderly relative’s lives before it’s safe to do so, then go ahead. Be as selfish as the clowns who are still ignoring social distancing.

          1. some old queen

            ‘social distancing’ is a term used by the bunch of clowns who couldn’t apply common sense and prioritise the vulnerable.

            Are you by any chance employed by those clowns who couldn’t apply common sense and prioritise the vulnerable?

            For clarity- I am not employed by those clowns who couldn’t apply common sense and prioritise the vulnerable.

            Now we have Harris photo shoots about pubs- and coffins.

  7. jamesjoist

    what would happen if people who were standing opposite a church, participating in a Mass, were mistaken for a shower of dipso’s participating in a booze up ! There would be outraged demands for the return of the Holy Hour .

  8. Gokkers

    When you frequent pubs it becomes habitual and when you don’t it also becomes habitual…a good long break away from them will see less people in them when it’s all over…fine weather gets people out more doing other things besides… notwithstanding this who can’t obviously.

    1. jamesjoist

      In the interest of clarity , you could replace ‘pub’ with ‘church’ and still retain the essence of you point .

  9. Matt Pilates

    HSE / NHPET: Ireland may have peaked on April 9.

    April 20: 77 dead. How utterly depressing and sad.

    Models, sure.

    1. Matt Pilates

      RIP all. Statistics hiding the true pain; the men in the grey suits will be back with a briefing tomorrow.

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