Speaking with the Athlone Advertiser this week, Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena, expressed his aspiration that a chink of light is now emerging following the planned phased lockdown exit announcement.
“I embrace a possible light at the end of the tunnel. testing the water is the only way we can cope going forward. Our frontline workers, whether they be in our hospitals, care homes, food chain, law enforcement, defence, civil defence, fire services, pharmaceutical companies, shops, local authorities and GP services have shown a strength and bravery that has to be commended. Our country has been ticking over during the last few weeks with many people working diligently from home,” Cllr. Keena remarked.
Expressing his fear that a second wave of COVID-19 may impact upon local communities, Cllr. Keena noted that, in unison, the country must play a role in ensuring that the planned phased exit works as desired.
“Our medical and scientific experts can only try and predict the future with guarded optimism. My fear would be a second wave. Our hospitals are filling again with ill patients needing other types of medical attention. A surge of COVID-19 cases will place another horrific burden on those front line staff who are exhausted not just physically but mentally with the strain of such heedless deaths they are witnessing. We cannot continue on a carousel of virus shutdown indefinitely but we can be patient and listen careful to those that know more than we,” the Town Mayor added.
The Town Mayor lauded the cohesive and diligent efforts of those volunteers who have assisted when called upon during the pandemic.
“I will forever admire those who volunteered to help out people in need when they lost their jobs. I am very conscious of the economic hardships that so many of our local businesses are going through and hope they can all be revived as soon as it is safe to do so. We now more than ever should be conscious of supporting local and Irish manufactured products. It is important that the Government provides essential strong financial support to our businesses to help them trade again.
“It is so heartening to see all those organisations and agencies that adapted their employment to help our vulnerable, namely, An Post, Gardai, Local Authority, fire and ambulance services. I know parishioners are grateful to the clergy for their outreach either by television, radio or online and indeed big thanks to the large number of people and sporting clubs who volunteered to help people in need. The true spirit of the Irish good nature is shining through this crisis,” Cllr. Keena continued.
Lessons need be be learned from the COVID-19 experience, the Town Mayor asserted.
“Lessons need to be learnt from this COVID-19 experience and going forward, we must include more green spaces as part of housing developments. We must never have a child without a sizeable space to play or our elderly without a safe space to walk. Urban developments must strive to have better outdoor friendly amenities onsite. Rural developments need to be permitted and not subject to the restrictions there are currently.
“The opening of schools in September will take an enormous amount of planning. I expect guidelines and protocols will follow in the coming months and we will most likely see smaller classes on a rota system.
“My advice with regard to the phased exit is to please adhere to it. We want normality again and we will, but not if this horror is given the opportunity to re-escalate. Be patient and conscious that our hands hold the health of so many near and dear to us. Please stay safe and well. As always I am available to assist you. Feel free to ring me on 0857474074,” the Town Mayor concluded.