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'Let's raise a glass to all the mammies of Ireland': Keeping your distance while celebrating Mother's Day

Some residents on the South Circular Road will be toasting to mothers from their front gardens this year.

Sadhbh O’Brien greets her grandparents Ken and Maeve Whitaker through the front window of her home in Dublin.
Sadhbh O’Brien greets her grandparents Ken and Maeve Whitaker through the front window of her home in Dublin.
Image: Yseult Whitaker

IT’S MOTHER’S DAY but for many people around the country they won’t get to hug their mams, instead, they’ll have to wave through a window or chat over the phone. 

Social distancing can’t, unfortunately, be relaxed for Mother’s Day, and the HSE has urged people to continue to comply with Covid-19 guidelines. 

Some residents on Dublin’s South Circular Road – adhering to social distancing rules – are marking Mother’s Day differently this year. 

“Everybody is going to come out into their garden at 6pm Sunday with a glass Prosecco or Champagne or a cup of tea and raise a glass to mothers,” Roisin Dunne told TheJournal.ie. 

“This is just a way of waving to the mams that we can’t see and wishing them a happy Mother’s Day.”

Dunne said she organised the synchronised toast as a lot of people, on both sides of the windowpane, are beginning to struggle mentally with the reality of social distancing amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

“This is a nice way of giving a virtual hug,” she said, explaining that she and her daughter have been keeping their distance from her 79-year-old mother, something which has been tough on them all.  

I have breast cancer so I’m isolating, and I’m a single mam with a 12-year-old daughter so she’s here at the moment with me. But she normally would spend quite a lot of time with my mam when I’m having treatment and she can’t obviously at the moment.

“It’s all a bit difficult for us because I’m trying to keep her spirits up and I’m trying to get my mother’s spirits up too.”

Roisin said she’d love to see as many people join in their toast in their own gardens at 6pm this evening by using the hash-tag #MothersDayToast on all social media platforms, “just to feel that we’re all in this together”. 

Best thing to do

In order to stop the spread of the virus, the HSE advises that people should reduce interactions with people outside the workplace and home and reduce the number of people they meet every day. As a result, many parents and grandparents around the country are not able to meet their loved ones face-to-face.

“We’ve all seen photos of children waving at their grandparents through the window and granny waving back. That’s very hard for everybody but it is the best thing to do,” Professor of Health Systems at DCU Anthony Staines told TheJournal.ie. 

Staines said that regardless of the day, right now we should all keep our distances from others, particularly older, sicker people.  

The HSE advises that those over 60 years of age and particularly those over 75 are vulnerable. But for people who are well and whose parents may not be considered high risk, they might be tempted to drop by later today.

Staines said it’s important to remember that there is no activity without risk and “it is all about balancing those risks”. 

“You might meet somebody in the supermarkets who will infect you without realising they’re unwell themselves, but you have to go to the supermarket. If you’re a healthcare worker you actually have to work, if you’re a lorry driver delivering food, you have to do it.

“The evidence says that the less time you spend with someone, the further away from them you are, and the closer you are to being outside, the better.”

“Say you met your mother and went for a walk on the local beach and then parted ways and waved politely as you went off. That’s a very low-risk activity but it’s not zero risks.”

Every family has to gauge for themselves what they’re going to do within the practicalities of life, what risk are you willing to take.  

But the more social distancing we implement now, the faster things will improve, says Staines. 

“Everyone just needs to play it safe this year, that would be my strong advice because god forbid anything does happen how would you feel about it afterward.”

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Public health advice

Another 102 cases of Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland were announced yesterday, bringing the total number to 785. 

Data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, which has so far studied 584 cases, shows that the median age of confirmed cases is 44 years while 30% of total cases have been hospitalised.

At yesterday’s briefing Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer said that the Department of Health is aware that pubs in some areas of the country are continuing to open, in contravention of public health advice.

If any such premises become known to us, the Minister will be advised to use his regulatory powers to enforce the temporary closure of premises in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19. 

“We are also asking An Garda Siochana to assist in encouraging the public to abide by the public health advice on social distancing by encouraging any groups congregating in public to disperse.”

As things stand, there are over 270,000 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed globally, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. 

The worldwide death toll from the virus has now reached more than 11,000 people.      

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Adam Daly

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