HAPPY NEW YEAR to all our Volunteers, Sponsors, Workers and everyone who has helped Ballincollig Tidy Towns throughout this very different year.
We look forward to a safer and healthier year in 2021. 
A new year begins with the entire country once again being placed in Level 5 Living with Covid total lockdown. With the spike in figures and the new strain of the virus making its way through the country, the government has taken the decision to enforce Level 5 from close of business on 31 December, 2020 and for it to remain in place until at least midnight on 31 January, 2021.
This Level 5 lockdown has a huge emphasis on staying at home and away from one another except under certain circumstances. In doing so it hopes to stop the   spread of the virus or at the very least contain it.
The health services are under enormous strain with many new cases now not only being diagnosed but also hospitalized. They do not have the resources to cope with the rising numbers and so the government, on the advice of NPHET, has made the decision to put the country back into lockdown again.
The arrival of the first vaccines will give some hope to our most vulnerable. Tuesday saw the first shots being administered and it is hoped that several thousand will be vaccinated in the coming weeks.
WORK – people must work from home unless for essential health, social care or other essential service that cannot be done from home.
DOMESTIC TRAVEL – people must stay at home except for travel for essential purposes, for work (when not possible to work from home) or for education. They are allowed to exercise within 5km of home.
Those away from their homes on 31 December will be permitted to return to their residences.
RETAIL AND PERSONAL SERVICES – all non-essential retail must close. All non-essential services will remain closed. Click and collect services will be available.
WEDDINGS AND FUNERALS – Weddings planned up to and including 2 January may proceed with a maximum of 25 guests. Weddings from 3 January may proceed with a maximum of 6 guests.
Funerals may have up to 10 mourners.
CHURCHES –  remain closed with Masses online. Open at certain times for personal prayer.
FAMILY AND SOCIAL GATHERINGS – no visitors permitted in private homes or gardens (except for essential family reasons such as providing care to children, the elderly or vulnerable people or as part of a support bubble).
No social or family gatherings in other settings.
People may meet people from one other household in outdoor settings when taking exercise.
SCHOOLS, CHILDCARE SERVICES, EARLY LEARNING, HIGHER/ADULT EDUCATION – childcare services and early learning open with protective measures.
Schools will open from 11 January with further review on situation in advance of that date.
Higher, Further and Adult education should remain primarily online.
HOSPITALITY – bars, cafes, restaurants including hotel restaurants/bars can offer take away food and delivery only.
Nightclubs, discos, casinos stay closed.
Hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs open only for those with essential non-social non-tourist purposes. People staying in hotel on 30 December may complete their stay.
SPORT AND EXERCISE – Individual training only. No exercise or dance classes. No indoor or outdoor gatherings involving ‘individual training’ except for exempted groups.
No matches or events except those permitted to continue behind closed doors.
Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools to close.
No indoor or outdoor exercise group activities including those involving children.
Golf and tennis not permitted.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT – people are asked to cycle or walk where possible and to avoid public transport so that it can be used by essential workers for essential purposes. Public transport capacity restricted to 25%.
LONG TERM RESIDENTIAL CARE FACILITIES – visiting suspended aside from critical and compassionate circumstances.
OVER 70S AND MEDICALLY VULNERABLE – each person should exercise their own  judgement. Specific guidance is provided.
BUSINESS, TRAINING AND ARTS EVENTS – no organized indoor or outdoor events to take place.
It’s amazing what you see sitting in Ballincollig’s McDonalds car park.
Whilst enjoying a take-away coffee from the Old Fort Road restaurant recently, I noticed a woman approaching the entrance to the drive thru. As the woman’s car passed by mine, her window opened and an empty coffee cup and lid were thrown from the vehicle onto the ground below.
I was shocked and appalled to say the least.  
With a number of bins located around the car park, would it really have killed this woman to dispose of the cup / lid in a more responsible manner?
I get my coffee every day from this outlet (lockdown or no lockdown), so understand all the efforts staff make to keep this area in pristine condition.
But did this woman care about those efforts? – No.
Her actions showed a total disregard for the staff of McDonalds and the wider community.
She didn’t care about who would have to pick up her litter. She didn’t care about her actions being caught on CCTV. She did care about undoing our people’s voluntary efforts to keep the streets of the town clean.
Perhaps in future, this lady might think twice about throwing litter out the window of her car and take time to look around her and see the work others are doing for her community.