Lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland continue to be relaxed, with the hospitality sector now welcoming customers back indoors. In the Republic of Ireland, strict lockdown measures are still in place, with no set date for when indoor dining will once again be possible.
Holly O’Doherty spoke to five Republic of Ireland residents to understand how they feel about this discrepancy and the impact it may have on the economy in Northern Ireland.
Audrey O’Hara, 39, a secondary school teacher residing in Dublin. “I am very jealous of lockdown restrictions being lifted quickly in Northern Ireland and the speed of the vaccine rollout out there as well. I think a lot of people from the Republic of Ireland will travel to Northern Ireland for shopping if we go back into a lockdown and Northern Ireland doesn’t.”
Pat Carolan, 58, a retired school principal residing in Meath. “The whole island of Ireland should have been coordinated in its restrictions and united in dealing with the COVID-19 virus. I’m not too sure how this will affect trade in Northern Ireland. I’m sure that Brexit will have more negative impact in the long term than the lockdown though.”
Eimear Cullen, 37, a teacher residing in Louth. “I understand why Northern Ireland are lifting lockdown restrictions before us and I can appreciate that. The Northern Ireland vaccination programme was much more efficient than ours. I really feel like the easing of restrictions will drive the Northern Ireland economy on faster. As I am living in a border county, I already have seen interest increasing in travelling to places like Newry and North Louth so that’ll really increase the traffic into Northern Ireland.
Aoife Traynor, 39, a secondary school teacher residing in Monaghan. “I feel like it’s a good idea that Northern Ireland are easing their lockdown restrictions sooner than in the Republic as they are way ahead in terms of vaccinations. If they are in a position to go ahead and reopen their economy, then they should. They need to get the economy moving as quickly as possible to capture the summer market in hospitality. The easing of lockdown restrictions can only be a boost to the Northern Ireland economy as it will benefit from trade from border counties and the wider regions. Indoor dining reopening is definitely a big draw.”
Conor Houlihan, 47, a member of the public sector residing in Dublin. “I’m really annoyed about lockdown restrictions easing quicker in Northern Ireland than in the Republic. I feel like the government could have handled it much better. I think, because of the circumstances, it will increase trade tourism in Northern Ireland dramatically.”
There is a varied response from the Republic of Ireland residents that were interviewed. Over half of the residents expressed some form of jealousy or annoyance at the easing of lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland being quicker than that in the Republic of Ireland.
The large majority of those asked, feel like the easing of lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland will positively impact its economy, with specific reference to the joys of indoor dining. Several individuals also referenced the increased trade opportunity that border counties may experience as a result of this discrepancy.
For further information regarding lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland, visit https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you. For further information regarding lockdown restrictions in the Republic of Ireland, visit https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/covid19/living_with_covid19_plan.html#.