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What will be the new ‘normal’ when Covid-19 is contained?

By Mindo - 30th Apr 2020

20/3/20 ***NO REPRO FEE*** These photographs were taken at the testing centre at Croke Park. A number of HSE staff feature in these photographs. Please note that this is not a real test and does not feature members of the public, the photographs were posed for illustrative and educational purposes only. Many people will need testing for Covid-19 over the coming months and a number of locations nationally are being used as testing centres. Croke Park is a testing centre in north Dublin. About testing: If you develop symptoms you will need to self-isolate and phone your GP. The people in your household need to restrict their movements. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital, the GP will assess you over the phone. If they think you need to be tested for coronavirus, they will arrange a test. Waiting for a test doesn’t change how you manage your symptoms or interactions with other people. If you are waiting on a test to see if you have Covid 19 or you have been tested and are waiting for the results you need to stay home and self-isolate to prevent you spreading any potential infection to others. For factual, trusted advice and information on Covid-19, go to Pic: Marc O’Sullivan

There’s a saying that goes, ‘sometimes the only way around something is to go straight through it’. That would seem to be where we are at the moment with Covid-19, as one type of strangeness is replaced with many others.

While people are no longer panic-buying toilet tissue, painkillers or bread, this has been replaced by oddities like multi-millionaire celebrities offering people their ‘support’ from lavish mansions, including Madonna in the nude telling us from her bathtub how difficult all of this is. (Incidentally, the stampede for bread was even more puzzling than the sudden toilet roll fetish, as bread is perhaps the most perishable item on supermarket shelves).

As an aside, if people needed 48 rolls of toilet paper for two weeks of quarantine, chances are they probably should have seen a doctor before the Covid-19 outbreak.

Reports have emerged of one or two alcohol outlets offering one-litre bottles of pre-prepared margaritas that come with a complementary roll of toilet paper. And there’s a whole lot of stir-craziness going on too. I have no evidence to back this statement up, but it might be safe to assume that divorce solicitors are preparing themselves for a very busy year when the dust settles.

It has become hard to end unwanted phone conversations with ‘okay, look, I have to run’, because there’s actually nowhere to run to.

High strangeness abounds — multi-billionaire Richard Branson applies to the UK government for a taxpayer-funded bailout of £500 million to save his airline.

And you know the weirdness is out of control when the owner of the local supermarket comes up with a more detailed, comprehensive plan for dealing with Covid-19 than the US President. America is in such a mess with infection and death rates, it has been joked that Mexico has considered closing its borders with the US for the safety of its citizens. (If US citizens are being tested for Covid-19 and are asked ‘Have you recently been to any countries severely affected by the coronavirus?’ is ‘the US’ a valid answer?) Apparently, failure is an option.

Still, it’s good to see Boris Johnson is recovering. If he needed a haircut before all the barbers were quarantined, it’s anyone’s guess what he will look like when this is all over.

And you had better believe the legions of anti-vaxxers are sharpening their knives in preparation for the day when a successful vaccine candidate is announced.

In chez Witherspoon, my dogs look deeply puzzled as they tilt their heads and stare, silently asking ‘what the hell are you still doing here?’ And some weird, best-ignored part of my brain wonders if Jehovah’s Witnesses are rubbing their hands in the realisation that everybody will be stuck at home…

Along with divorce lawyers, psychiatrists are in for a hellishly busy time when the lockdown is lifted (and, of course, the GPs who refer them). Being locked up with family members can put a tremendous strain on relationships, even to the point of damaging them, and the adjustment in thinking processes can be equally strenuous for everybody.

But when the lockdown finally ends, there will be perhaps an equally stressful readjustment — back to the soul-sapping daily commute, the 9-to-5, the daily drudgery. A week after freedom of movement is restored, a good many people may be wishing for another one. And then there are the people who have actually lost their jobs because of the pandemic and will have to go out and hustle for another way to make ends meet.

It seems sensible to assume that when Covid-19 has been consigned to the history books, it will very quickly be replaced by a tsunami of mental health issues that weren’t there before the outbreak. Gird your loins and get ready for the deluge.

Passing the time

I am always glad to receive any comments, contributions or jokes to For my own part, I was due to turn 53 this month but due to the lockdown, I will be postponing that chronological landmark until next year. Every cloud, and all that.

It’s the year 2036 and a father and son are chatting over the dinner table. The boy asks, “Dad, why is my sister named Paris?” The father replies, “well, that’s because she was conceived in Paris. Why do you ask, Quaranteene?”


And finally, my thanks to the reader who sent me the below image. While the Tokyo Olympic Games were sensibly postponed — after a somewhat nail-biting wait for that decision — it was suggested that had they gone ahead, the official symbol would have been changed to reflect the times we live in. Be safe everybody, and let’s be kind to each other.

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