For the rest of us, a return to any semblance of normal is a far off pipe dream at the moment, but it’s reality for Listowel native Carmella McKay living on the Isle of Man, she has been living under almost zero restrictions for much of the past year.
he Isle of Man was in the international headlines this week as they removed almost all of their covid restrictions as they emerged from the island’s second ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown which was brought in on January 7 following a cluster of positive Covid cases.
This lockdown meant that the island’s almost 85,000 residents were asked to comply with a comprehensive set of rules, including a strong advisory to wear facemasks even when outside.
It has worked though, the island has not had any unexplained COVID-19 cases for 20 days and so Covid-19 restrictions were lifted shortly after midnight on February 1.
It means that there is no longer a requirement for social distancing and members of the public do not have to wear face coverings. It also means that all schools and businesses on the island are allowed to re-open again.
Despite the lifting of these restrictions though, there are still strict controls that remain in place at the island’s borders, including rules on those who can travel to the Isle of Man.
Carmella – who moved to the Isle of Man in 1995 – has told The Kerryman this week that they have spent more time living without restrictions this past year than with them. She said that she is baffled as to why Ireland, as an island, has been so dismissive of adopting a ‘Zero Covid’ policy, something which has been much talked about here in Ireland over the last few weeks.
For Carmella, the positives of this strict strategy far outweigh the negatives.
“We’re looking at family in Ireland and in the UK and what ye are going through is just so completely different to what the Isle of Man has gone through. At Christmas time, we were still able to do a big light switch on, there was Christmas parties going on, the churches were packed out. Everything was as normal as it always had been,” she continued.
Their only experience similar to what we in Kerry and Ireland have been going through for much of the past year was in the early months of last year when the pandemic first started, since then though, life was almost at a complete near normal.
“Between March and July of last year, we were in about a three month lockdown and then everything went back to normal from about July onwards.
We got back to normality pretty much in July and then we continued on as normal until January 6 when there was a small outbreak which meant we had to have a hard 25-day lockdown,” Carmella said on Tuesday afternoon.
“We had masks and social distancing measures in place early last year but since I’d say around mid-June, there was no measures about masks, no social distancing that we had to adhere to. We had five to six months of a run at it, with no restrictions at all,” said Carmella.
Key to achieving this level of freedom and normality again is their government taking a very strict approach to their borders and who can enter the region.
“Our borders here have been shut here completely since March 2020 except for key workers obviously, but you can’t have visitors coming here, you can’t have family, It’s been hard obviously but it’s worked,” she continued.
“Ireland should be closing its borders, closing all the airports, not letting anyone it. Even if they could that for a month to six weeks and just keep everyone in, you’d see a huge difference.
Obviously, I know that the Isle of Man is smaller, much smaller than Ireland, but you’re still an island, you should just seal off your borders. Just grin and bear it. It would make a massive, massive difference,” she said.