A Slap On The Head


This afternoon.


This morning.

“We are essentially prioritising schools, healthcare facilities, the economy over the accelerated opening of the pubs. This was not done lightly.

We really do understand that there are publicans waiting and hoping that they would be able to open on Monday. But the public health advice is were we to open now them right now it could materially add to the possibility of a second wave and that’s just not a risk we could take.”

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (top left) to Bryan Dobson on RTE Radio One’s Morning Ireland earlier


Mr Donnelly said the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is very concerned given the ‘R’ number is now between 1.2 and 1.8.

The minister said if it is 1.8, then within three weeks we could see be up to 160 cases of Covid-19 per day.

The reproductive rate, or ‘R number’, indicates the number of people on average that an infected person will pass the virus on to.

Um .


Reopening pubs could ‘materially add’ to possibility of second Covid-19 wave, says Donnelly (RTÉ)

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43 thoughts on “A Slap On The Head

  1. Charger Salmons

    There is no evidence at all that the re-opening of bars and restaurants in Europe has had any significant effect at all on infection spikes.
    If there is why don’t the government provide it ?
    From the UK’s perspective here is Professor Karl Sikora, an oncologist for 50 years.

    Prioritising schools ? In much of Europe schools were back even before the summer holidays while here they still haven’t formulated a plan as to how they’ll attempt to open in September.

    It’s clear to me that the Irish government and its medical and scientific advisers have been forced to come up with this ruse to hide the fact they haven’t handled the initial pandemic surge in its entirity successfully.
    Otherwise why would they be lagging so far behind Europe in the 4th stage of re-opening ?

    1. JEH

      We’ve been lagging behind Europe in nearly every aspect of re-opening even though the cases here even at the peak seemed far lower than what was reported across the continent.

    2. scottser

      you’d want to be careful in your support of the publicans and vintners. they’re all over the radio this morning saying that supermarkets shouldn’t be allowed to sell alcohol because house parties are the cause of the second covid spike. they do not give a flying fook about you or your health as long as their profits aren’t compromised.

      1. seanydelight

        And its was supermarkets, not off licenses he mentioned. The presenter failed to challenge him on that adequately .

  2. Cú Chulainn

    Well, it is as our new health supremeo says: prioritising schools is more important than pubs.. and it is. We have to do all we can to avoid a UK or US explosion..

  3. Charger Salmons

    And just a reminder, over the last week of recorded figures there has been an average of 16 news infection cases a day,virtually all of whom will make a full recovery.
    Covid-19 has been comparatively non-existent in Ireland since the beginning of June.
    Calling this a sign of resurgence in a population of just under five million is beyond a joke.
    Show us the evidence if it’s that serious.

    1. George

      There is no way to know who will make a full recovery. The R rate rising means the number of cases will increase exponentially. We don’t want to have Leicester on our hands, thanks.

      1. Charger Salmons

        There are eight Covid-19 testing stations in Leicester.
        One opened on May 1.
        All the others – seven of them – have opened since June 18, the very period during which the supposed surge has taken place.
        Guess what ?
        Increased testing produces increased numbers of infections,most of them asymptomatic.
        In fact we definitely do want another Leicester on our hands in Ireland. Rather than hold an entire country to ransom over miniscule surge numbers opt for localised lockdowns if and when they occur.
        Like guess where ? Yup, the rest of Europe.

  4. Johnnythree

    Oh god, please stop talking about R. It is a useless measure. The only measures that count are deaths and ICU admissions. This who scenario has been an entire car crash.
    Masks now? When we are down to 10 cases a day? And very few deaths? Where were the masks in March?
    Surface transmission now highly unlikely, airborne transmission unlikely outside, even inside it is less virulent than we thought. Al t he data on lockdown shows that the outcomes are the same regardless of lockdown.
    Second wave? Where is it? Where has it happened? Sure if it happens in winter we can work on it but my god the Govt is really destroying the country. Sam Mc Conkey wants us to be forcibly be taken to a holding quarantine place and be ‘released’ after we had a test that is negative.
    No extra spikes in Europe, my friends in Switzerland think it is mental that we are still where we are. Their kids back in school since May. It is beyond belief we are letting the simples in Govt run this the way we are. Mandatory face masks???? What next Vaccination certs??

    1. George

      It is not a useless measure. It gives us an indication of what how the virus is spreading so action can be taken before we end up with more people dead and in ICU. Wearing masks prevents the small numbers of people who have the virus spreading it to others and so keeps the numbers small.

      They wouldn’t have to make it mandatory if more people had sense and weren’t such babies about wearing a mask for short periods of time.

      1. Johnnythree

        1. It is a useless measure because it interplays with other factors, transmission, societal movement, size, infectiousness etc. Are you telling me the R rate for NYC and Switzerland for example are of the same importance, of course not. R is a blunt measure which just spreads panic into society.
        2. There is no evidence that mask wearing makes a difference. Even the WHO says that. Besides, why wear a mask now if the prevalence is so low? It was not masks that got us to low prevalence was it?
        3. People have lots of sense and loads of them don’t believe the ‘narrative’ on Covid.
        Go read the studies and inform yourself.

      2. f_lawless

        I agree with Johnnythree. This article (written in May) by UK Professor of Pathology , Dr. John Lee, on the nature of the ‘R number’ is worth a read. He’s writing about the UK situation but it’s applicable to what’s happening now in Ireland, I believe.


        “R is calculated using mathematical modelling – and the models used have repeatedly been found to reach untenable and frankly wrong-headed conclusions…. I can tell you that this is not a strong enough number to bear the burden of any Government policy…

        ..In fact, the epidemiological models that generate R are probably less reliable than long-range weather forecasts…

        ..There is a tendency to give models too much respect because they rely on mathematics that few can follow. But any model, no matter how complex, is only as good as its data and assumptions.”

        For some unclear reason , Irish health officials seem to be fixated on the assumption that only around 1% of the population has been exposed to the virus. From what I gather, this is based on results of antibody testing. But the thing is, there’s a body of emerging scientific research that’s been published indicating that there’s a whole range of immunological responses the body might utilise which don’t involve the production of antibodies specific to covid-19.( eg T-Cell immunity, cross-immunity through prior exposure to other viruses, etc.)

        And considering that the PCR technology being used to detect infection is wholly unreliable and prone to giving false positives, then it could very well be the case that the government is letting policy be directed by an R number which is meaningless. Garbage in, garbage out.

        1. Cian

          I think you are mixing up two things. You can predict a future R-value – which is what Dr. John Lee is talking about.
          Or you can calculate the historic or current R-value by looking at actual cases. They are tracking all positive cases and working out where each person was infected. You can then count how many other people each person infected.
          And if you average that number you get the R-value.

          And considering that the PCR technology being used to detect infection is wholly unreliable and prone to giving false positives
          Can you provide any evidence for this? And what do you mean by “wholly unreliable” – that suggests that the tests are random.

          1. f_lawless

            No I think perhaps you’re misinterpreting what Dr. Lee is saying. If you read the article, it’s clear he’s talking about the about the methodology as a whole – ie. the problems inherent with calculating the current (effective) R rate (due to inaccurate /incomplete data) and by extension the future predictions which are made off of it.

            By wholly unreliable, I don’t mean that every single test case result is necessarily wrong, I just mean that by their nature PCR tests are unfit for purpose in terms of definitively diagnosing whether someone is infected with Sars-Cov-2 or not. Even the Nobel prize-winning chemist, Kary Mullis, who invented the PCR technology, believed it should never have been used in such a way

            This well referenced article is worth a read:

    2. Daisy Chainsaw

      Where were the masks in March? We didn’t need them as much because most places were closed and we were coccooning and observing social distancing.

  5. Murtles

    Isn’t it fantastic that having €9 worth of food with your pints is like a vaccine for the Covid.
    Isn’t it fantastic that sitting at a table rather than at the bar in the same pub is like a vaccine for the Covid
    Isn’t it fantastic that listening to the radio instead of a live musician like a vaccine for the Covid

    1. George

      The requirement to serve food means most pubs are closed. That limits the spread of Covid 19.

      Not sitting at the bar is about distance between customers and staff.

      Live music means it is more likely people will dance.

      It isn’t rockets science.

  6. Zaccone

    How is it that bars are open in every other European country, and have been for months in some cases now, with no problems?

    This is a pretty ridiculous decision that has no basis in science. I have huge sympathy for the publicans who only got 2 working days notice about the complete change in plans…

  7. The Dude

    A Thought

    Grogan’s as pictured normally has seats and tables outside when open for business, and are legendary for their toasted sandwiches.

    If businesses such as this were facilitated by Dublin City Council so as to have seats and tables outside along South William Street, it would mean that people would have sufficient space to be socially distant in the open air, which is 19 times safer than indoors.

    Existing traffic could be rerouted by Clarendon Street, which is parallel – as the city council proposes doing for a few test weekends next month. Yet that is far too little and too late – Cork, Tralee, and Limerick all began making provisions months ago. Those initiatives seem to be successful, with few if any reports of crowds congregating.

    Hence, it seems reasonable that if proper provision was made in Dublin, there would not be scenes such as Dame Lane – as tables would space people out, while businesses would not tolerate people at those tables with drink from elsewhere – and there also would be a number of different places for people to go, with crowding probably less likely to occur.

    Instead, the authorities in Dublin seem to have adopted a ban-everything or a free-for-all approach. This has rewarded irresponsible operators – while hammering consumer confidence as the vast majority of people cannot relax in settings where they may not feel safe.

    In Copenhagen, back in April, they commenced making sensible visible provisions to enable safe trade – with pedestrianised streets now having a line painted down the middle so that people walk up on one side, and down the other – and so avoid breathing and coughing in each other’s faces. A simple basic measure that is self-evident in its logic – and so reassures pedestrians and consequently trade.

    It is therefore regrettable that sectoral interests for bars concentrated on looking for early opening dates – rather than getting better outdoor spatial provision and allowances from relevant local authorities, as well as clearer and more coordinated directions from central government.

    There is little point opening if consumer confidence is not there, with only 15% of people happy to stay in indoor areas if social distancing is reduced to 1 metre. Alas, that’s been something else that sectoral interests were promoting. Today, their latest bid is that supermarkets be banned from selling alcohol – a ridiculous idea that will go nowhere. Remarkable leadership altogether.

    Mismanagement of the Dublin’s public domain long seems to have been a festering problem, yet the current crisis has made this a lot more obvious. The measures announced by Dublin City Council to have a few pilot weekends of part pedestrianisation along Drury Street, Dame Court and South William Streets seem meaningless, as this does not make sense for businesses to invest in proper outdoor seating and chairs to make adjacent spaces functional and attractive.

    Perhaps Dublin City Council does not understand the concepts of functional and attractive? Such seems evident with the current proliferation around the city centre of cheap nasty plastic bollards that belong at temporary motorway roadworks, rather than in the supposed prestige streets of a European capital.

    By not properly pedestrianising Drury and South William Streets – but instead keeping these fully open to cars – no interference is caused to car access in and out of the city council’s two car parks on Drury Street. Cui bono?

    1. Charger Salmons

      The problem is planning laws and licensing.
      And as in the case of other cities in Europe the planning to get round these problems should have begun months ago.
      The trouble is the pandemic began after Ireland barely had a functioning government,some ministers were still in post even after they’d lost their seat in the Dail and no-one appeared in much of a hurry to form a new government.
      Inevitably in the early stages they were fire-fighting but it’s clear that insufficient preparation was made for the later stages, hence the cock-ups over things like childcare insurance and now pubs opening.
      The thing is it’s not trial and error – our neighbours on the continent have been doing this for weeks.
      Has anyone any ideas how schools will re-open in September – I wonder if they’ve even looked at other countries where schools have been functioning since April ?
      This incompetence will cost Ireland dearly in the mid to long term.
      On a more prosaic point I’m not sure the cafe culture would exist too well in Dublin with all the scobes and lowlifes on the sparsely-policed streets.

  8. John Smith


    A guide to R — the pandemic’s misunderstood metric

    An interesting article that explains how the R number is calculated, it’s relative accuracy and when it is of use. Amongst the points worth considering are the following. Accurate figures for the R numbers can only be determined retrospectively. The figures used for current R figures are a ‘nowcast’ – ie an estimate, based on a variety of models (which is why the R figure is given as a range, not a single figure). Nowcasts are not accurate representations of the current situation – the accurate figures will be available later and, based on past experience, will be noticeably different.

    1. Cian

      Interesting read – thanks.

      “Nowcasts are not accurate representations of the current situation – the accurate figures will be available later and, based on past experience, will be noticeably different.”
      Any evidence for this part? or is this just your personal opinion?

      1. John Smith


        Hi, Cian,

        The first bit is a statement of fact: “Nowcasts are not accurate representations of the current situation – the accurate figures will be available later”. Nowcasts are a range of forecasts of what the modellers reckon the actual figures for now will be when they have been collected and analysed. This means nowcast R figures are an estimate of what the figures will actually turn out to be when they are announced sometime later.

        The second part, “and, based on past experience, will be noticeably different”, is my take on what is said in the article. A link for another article is given above. A quote from this is “The estimate of R becomes increasingly less accurate as the total number of cases falls. This applies even more as R is estimated for smaller areas.”

        1. John Smith

          Just a further point, ‘accurate’ should read ‘more accurate’, as the actual figures are still an estimate because the R number itself is an estimate. It’s the ‘average number of people who become infected by an infectious person’ (https://rt.live/) but we don’t know how many infectious people there are or how many people have been infected so the calculations are not clear cut.

          ‘Rt represents the effective reproduction rate of the virus calculated for each locale. It lets us estimate how many secondary infections are likely to occur from a single infection in a specific area. Values over 1.0 mean we should expect more cases in that area, values under 1.0 mean we should expect fewer.’ (same site as quoted above)

  9. Orla

    Government need to keep playing the covid 19 card, keep it in the public’s mind to justify the coming job losses over the next 2 years along with tax hikes. When you increase testing it’s basic logic to expect more cases, this would be the same if we used PCR rna testing every flu season.
    The reason we are not seeing a lot of job losses now is because of tax payer funded bailout money given to banks and big corporate groups, the corporate bond bubble is on life support. Wallstreet was receiving bailout money last September ,the system didn’t recover after 2008 as the hype would have you believe, money for nothing created that illusion.
    The government know that a few pubs and restaurant closures mean a few jobs losses in an already saturated hospitality market, compare that to the corporate groups who let people go in the hundreds at a time and keep in mind how reliant on big corporate groups Ireland is for employment.
    Many of the non profit making tech unicorns are in Ireland and won’t find seed money as easy to come by going forward and will close.
    They will either let people go or justify lowering of salaries , many executives in these companies know what’s coming.
    The covid19 card curbs social unrest and you can justify legislating for it, the main reasoning is it protects political “jobs” and gives more power to big corporate groups to pay less and make more profit ,we socialize their losses for now and when they are back making profit they will become capitalists again, the peasants however are always playing the capitalist game, the bank you bail out will take your house when your job is gone, can we even use the words capitalist or socialist to describe this system?

          1. Johnnythree

            @sidhe thats you reeling from a punch. Good work @orla. I’m having a slow work day.

          2. sidhe

            no I just find engaging with people who can string a coherent point together preferable to someone who slaps together several rambling points in the hopes that it might vaguely make sense. see, otherwise it just reads like a good old fashioned internet rant, which Orla has demonstrated beautifully on more than one occasion

    1. Cian

      “Government need to keep playing the covid 19 card”
      Why would the government do this if COVID is fake? Surely they should open everything as soon as possible to stop any more economic damage.

  10. Your Home Correspondent

    Slap on head? What is this sexist, body-shaming slagging doing in the diverse-friendly pages of Broadsheet?

  11. Steph Pinker

    Let me get this straight, the pubs might not reopen on 10th August (according to Varadkar, playing the authoritarian bully-boy), but according to Coveney earlier today, and Simon Harris who was on Drivetime a few minutes ago, people travelling into Ireland don’t have to self-isolate/ quarantine on arrival, they just have to restrict their movements.

    No wonder it took them 140 days to form a government. There’s more to come, and it’s sickening.

    Would this U-Turn have anything to do with MM who’s off to Belguim tomorrow? Noooooo way!

  12. :-Joe

    Haha Bodger, you cheeky so n’ so…

    Well done eejit’s, you voted for this contempt, incompetance and chaos… Again!…
    – a.k.a Another opportune moment in history to pin the public majority to the floor with the establishment’s boot firmly across the neck..
    -(Internal F-speak within the F-f/g establishment)

    It’s not as if, in the past century they’ve ever needed any extra help.. but well done you.

    The WHO is corrupt and is following all sorts of private agendas of influence, I don’t know why people keep refering to it anymore. It’s about as well-run, effective and honest as the UN with all the veto powers there.

    Look at New Zealand, all you need is proper border control, testing and quarantine facilities… after the initial period of social distancing and self-isolation etc. and they still are having a few new spikes.

    Look at Ireland.. It’s ok they’re from.. Daa.. Da Da.. Da Da Da Da Da Da.. Da Da Da.. Da de Dallas!..
    – JR would be spittin’ bullets and Sue Ellen would be hammered from stress if it was happening the other way round.. but that’ll never happen..
    – i.e. You can’t even travel to the US without special clearance.

    More mickey mouse bs for colonialism and empire as usual…

    Yee Haw !!!…

    :-J – https://www.privacytools.io

  13. :-Joe

    Just forget about complaining and let’s bring about the renaissance of the culture of the speakeasy….

    It could be the roaring 20’s all over again…
    – In fact I think history is repeating itself anyway…

    Focus your mind, effort and energy.. let’s make it happen people!

    Hundreds of prohibition dive bar’s rockin’ with cheap hooch and swinging tunes!..

    :-J – https://www.privacytools.io

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