After two years of Covid setbacks and occasional false dawns, Kilkenny is back in business. With almost all restrictions now lifted, normality has resumed and a new sense of optimism abounds.
No, the war is not over, but the worst of it looks to be and we must now make our plans in renewed hope. The pandemic has been very difficult for people — many have faced isolation, or said goodbye to loved ones. It has been an unavoidable reminder that time is precious. In the months ahead, we will hopefully enjoy the freedom to travel, to socialise unhindered. The things we took for granted, and lost, will be celebrated.
There must also be lessons learned. Our frontline staff have had a huge burden to bear throughout this pandemic. They have called for more supports, more staff, more facilities.
Problems that have long existed — patients on trolleys waiting for beds, lack of space, lack of staff — must be addressed. The stringent restrictions brought in were intended to prevent our health service from being overwhelmed; it is frightening to comprehend how close we are to that at any time. Field hospitals and mobile mortuaries are not a sight anyone wants to see.
New modes of working and living are now in place for many, and in some cases, they are likely to remain. Traffic arrangements, such as the one-way system in Kilkenny City, may also be back under the spotlight.
There will be other crises. They may be pandemics, the threat of international conflict returning to Europe or climate change, which threatens disruption and disaster.
We should be taking every step to avoid or mitigate these problems. People must also try to live in the knowledge that at any minute things can change very suddenly. After two unpredictable and unusual years, who knows what the next two have in store?
We must treasure all the minutes, the good times and bad. We must enjoy our lives and cherish the people in them.
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