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Be like the good people in Ireland – not like my neighbors

A sign in the Town Square of Portlaoise, Ireland. (Viktoria Jurickova/YJI)

Portlaoise, IRELAND – The global pandemic that is the novel coronavirus took Ireland, just like the rest of the world, by storm.

Citizens were extremely worried in the beginning, but it seems that their mindset has begun to change.

We experienced the usual empty shops and low food supply as soon as the outbreak hit, as well as a shortage of sanitary products.

Online teaching was applied almost immediately to the point of myself having no memory of a real classroom. Schools won’t re-open until October in an ideal situation.

Graduations have been canceled and leaving certificate exams have been pushed to summer.

Not social distancing can land you six months in prison. Going beyond the allowed distance from your home for non-essential reasons and refusing to go home when told by the police can result in a large fine.

That is Ireland right now, yet it seems that most people have begun to stop caring about the restrictions.

We went from completely empty streets day and night when the virus first appeared, to people walking around almost constantly.

People seem to be everywhere, even at tourist attractions. Some will still claim that it is as dangerous as the flu.

People walking and driving up to see The Rock of Dunamaise, a popular tourist attraction in Laois. (Viktoria Jurikova/YJI)

Social distancing is something that seems to rarely be followed. Even some of the elders stop and chat in the middle of the street without maintaining a 2-meter distance.

And though social gatherings or visiting other people has been banned, my neighbors continue to pass their children around from garden to garden by lifting them above the fence and having pool parties with half of the people from my neighborhood.

I’m happy to report that there are other individuals who are acting accordingly. People have been placing signs around town and even in front of their houses to show support for essential workers.

A local art shop known as Yarn Haus had to postpone its opening by several months but is using this time to sew fabric masks for the healthcare workers free of charge. They are also allowing the public to take these masks. All they’re asking is for you to make a small donation to Debra Ireland, which is helping patients with skin diseases.

The Yarn Huas, an arts and crafts shop that made masks for the community. (Viktoria Jurickova/YJI)

I don’t know how much longer it will take for the world to become “normal” again or whether it should, but one thing is for sure.

Those who are doing their part by helping others and following the rules are the kind of people we should aspire to be. If you can help, then you should do so, even if it is by doing something as simple as social distancing.

Whatever you do, respect the guidelines and don’t act like my neighbors.

Viktoria Jurickova is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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