he Government’s official anti-Covid advertising is still all about the parties that nobody is having any more.
It’s nearly 2022, but the messaging seems stuck in 2020.
Instead, there’s a real sense that the State’s out(of touch)reach is effective in one particular and unintended way… by driving home to anyone listening or reading that we really are on our own.
It’s down to us, not the Government.
On the threshold of 2022, with infection admitted to be “rife” across the State, and the Chief Medical Officer admitting a real daily figure of 30,000 cases (remember when we quailed in the March 2020 lockdown when Leo Varadkar warned infection could reach 15,000 cases a month), the State officially still thinks it’s party time.
It believes that you’ve received an embarrassment of invitations, and will probably flit between gatherings tonight for the sake of not only Auld Lang Syne, but not disappointing others.
How else to explain the RSVP campaign, which has continued unchecked to this point?
Officially, it “aims to empower people to assess the risk involved in different activities by providing practical information and guidance”.
RSVP stands for Risk, Symptoms, Venue and People – which you won’t have remembered, because it’s so forced and awkward a comparison in the first place.
It “encourages people to be risk aware, to think before they meet up with others, and to ask themselves the right questions,” according to the authorities.
But RSVP is DOA as advice… because there are no parties anyway among the ‘responsible’ cohort likely to listen to, or read, such advertising. Parties have been ended by common consent, because it’s just too risky to be frisky.
Yet the fact that the State still countenances that it is common and ordinary to meet up in groups – “venues and people” being the end of RSVP – is deeply alarming.
Omicron means the risk is overwhelming and cannot be independently assessed by any guest ahead of a gathering: it’s a compete nonsense.
“Symptoms” is another non-sequitur. We’ve known since the start that the virus is infectious in infected people who feel fine and are showing no symptoms – but can effortlessly ruin your life in the short-term.
So the advert boils down to an instruction to “party responsibly”, despite some right-on advertising type working their red braces off to make official advice somehow conform to the RSVP acronym.
Telling people to party responsibly is the ultimate meaningless paradox, particularly in an Irish context. With alcohol and the eroding hours of 2021, there’s just no such thing.
It’s almost as hopeless as asking the Government to “respondez, s’il vous plait” in the teeth of an emergency. Of course, the advert was designed before the scale of the Omicron wave was realised, and is no doubt at the end of its natural life, but it emphasises how awkward the State’s response has been.
The CMO was asked on radio today about the fact, for instance, that State guidance still allows four households to meet up within four walls… an obvious recipe for transmission, such is the unprecedented penetration of the virus into society.
He side-stepped the trap, saying it was Government advice, while public health advice remained to minimise your social contacts as the best way to avoid falling victim.
He was never going to say that was an emblem of the State’s inability to act nimbly… leaving it to the individual to see in 2022 from behind their sofa, instead of mixing with three other households.
Instead, he emphasised antigen tests as a means of protecting the crumbling PCR system… with the public mindful that Nphet previously dismissed antigens as snake oil.
Meanwhile, the country threatens to grind to a halt, even with limited and again arguably belated changes to isolation rules for close contacts.
The Government is meeting in the middle of next week – after the schools have gone back. The whole muddle seems to scream one bleak message: In 2022, it’s down to you.