“Government ban household visits”, blared the Irish Examiner, last night, as the latest round of futile covid restrictions were announced:

Futile is a good word, here. The “restrictions” announced last night are not really restrictions at all, in the sense that they are legally unenforceable. Are the Gardai going to arrest you or me if, later this evening, we decide to pop next door for a chat?

No, they are not. So we’re not really banned then, are we?

The hope, of course, is that if our neighbour comes to visit us, this evening, we shall do our best impersonation of Gandalf the Grey in the mines of Moria, and thrust our staff into the ground, and roar at our neighbour that:

Some people, of course, will do exactly that. Well, maybe not exactly that, but you get the idea.

But many, many, many people simply will not.

A law that is unenforceable, and is likely to be widely disregarded, is simply no law at all. It’s not a restriction. It’s not a measure. It’s more akin to a pitiful plea – please, please don’t do this.

Those who do stand to be prosecuted, of course, are those who are just trying to make a living. Restaurant and Bar owners, owners of salons. Anybody who makes money from providing services to others is, once again, being forced into the threat of bankruptcy at the express behest of the Government.

And all the while, schools are open. They’re not open, incidentally, because of any compelling evidence that they are medically safe. The Taoiseach made that quite clear, last evening:

As Alan Hynes notes there, it’s quite clear that the decision on schools is based on opposition to them closing, rather than on medical advice.

This is not an argument, incidentally, to close the schools, but the fact that they are to remain open under all circumstances reveals the futility of the entire exercise. If the country is taking these drastic measures to contain the virus, what’s the point in leaving schools open, providing the virus with a giant petri dish in which to spread through the population?

And if, on the other hand, schools are so important that they must stay open in all circumstances, why does no other sector get similar consideration? Is education more important than the livelihoods of people who’ve spent a lifetime and all they have building up a business? Is it more important than people who will lose their jobs, and risk mortgage default? Is it more important than those suffering severely with stress, and loneliness, and isolation?

Ireland’s covid policy is, once again, entirely reactive, and driven by the numbers on a day to day basis. The experts employed to advise the Government recommend one thing, but the Government fears the political consequences of doing that thing. The Government says it is committed to protecting the economy, but at the same time implements measures that will both damage the economy, and fail to contain the virus.

The entire approach might be summed up as the worst of both worlds: Immense damage to the country, very little damage to our little virus friend.

In the meantime, we’re engaged in a national effort in self-delusion if we think that people are not going to visit or engage with other people. Everyone has an excuse, and the government has happily provided them with those excuses. Virtually every visit can be justified as checking in on someone, or providing assistance, or vital to mental health.

Ireland doesn’t have a policy on Coronavirus – it has two, competing, and contradictory policies, on Coronavirus. Lockdown, and no Lockdown, both at the same time.

It won’t work.