Credit: Tim Carey / Unsplash

UK Govt: We’ll have 150,000 fans at Silverstone for the Grand Prix

We do not really cover sports here at Gript, so it is a delight to be able to write about my beloved Formula One under the guise of writing about the latest evidence that Ireland’s overly cautious pandemic policies are insane.

There are two questions here: First, will Max Verstappen embarrass reigning seven-time world champion Sir Lewis Hamilton in front of his home fans? And second, will anyone in Ireland notice that while we are shut up because of the Delta Variant in the UK, the UK is having 150,000 people congregate on an old airfield in Northamptonshire?

The answer to the first is: On current form, quite probably. Hamilton’s Mercedes should, in theory, have the advantage through the high and medium speed corners at the home of motorsport, compared to Verstappen’s Red Bull, which seems to prefer the slower stuff. But that didn’t save Hamilton last time out, in France, and Red Bull seems faster in a straight line these days. So it could be a classic.

But most of you do not care about that.

The British Grand Prix is scheduled for Sunday, July 18th. That’s less than two weeks after Ireland is presently scheduled to proceed to the next stage of our re-opening, on July 5th. But that date, now, is in apparent doubt, and the Government is refusing to commit to it. Two to three weeks more, some officials are saying:

“senior public health sources said the chances of issuing advice to proceed as planned are “50-50”, and argued a two- to three-week delay could be effective.

“[That] buys you an extra 10-15 per cent of the population protected – that’s huge,” one senior public health official said, referring to the ongoing vaccination programme. “Why risk things for the sake of two weeks when we’ve come this far?”

Bear in mind, by the way, that even under the mooted July 5th re-opening, if it somehow goes ahead, events like major sporting fixtures will still be banned. All that July 5th does, at the moment, is to allow indoor dining to proceed, and an increase in the numbers at weddings and funerals, and so on. At the moment, the Government’s roadmap says that “increasing the numbers permitted at outdoor events” is “under consideration” for…. August. And if July 5th gets delayed, you can probably kiss goodbye to the notion of a crowd in Croke Park later this year to witness Dublin winning their eighth in a row in the football. Though perhaps, given Dublin’s boring dominance of that sport, we might consider that a blessing.

In any case, it’s worth putting this in bold: Ireland is delaying re-opening because of fears of the Delta variant in the UK, but the UK itself is opening up much faster.

That begs the question: What is causing the delays in Ireland? Is it that we lack a health service that is as good as the NHS? Is it that we lack political courage? Is it that we have a media that refuses to question? Is it some combination of all three?

Because it makes no sense. We cannot answer the question, here at Gript. All we can do is ask it. Which is more than most other outlets are doing. Anyway, if you are doing nothing on July 18th, tune into the Grand Prix. It is the best formula one season in years. And even my preferred team, Aston Martin, are getting better as the year goes on.

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