At the height of the COVID pandemic, the restrictions in Ireland were particularly stringent. As a way of showing gratitude to citizens for all their sacrifices, the Irish government plans to extend St. Patrick’s Day celebrations this year, giving the Irish a welcome four-day holiday, according to the Daily Mail.
The extra day off is planned for Friday, March 18, a day after St. Patrick’s Day. With the two bank holidays occurring just before the weekend, the inhabitants of the Emerald Isle will be able to really make the most of St. Patrick’s Day — something many families will appreciate considering the first lockdown in Ireland began days before St. Patrick’s Day in 2020, leaving loved ones isolated from each other.
However, this isn’t a one-off. The Irish people can look forward to an extra day’s bank holiday every year, although in future years the extra bank holiday will take place on St. Bridget’s Day, February 1.
The government also announced that they’ll be giving a bonus of €1,000 (just over $1,100) to frontline healthcare workers, to whom is owed “a national debt of gratitude.”
The announcement came from the Tanaiste — the government’s deputy head — Leo Varadkar:
“A long two years since this pandemic began, 9,000 lives have been lost to Covid on the island of Ireland, and millions of lives have been interrupted.
‘Today the Government decided on three actions to remember those who lost their lives to COVID and to recognize all workers, volunteers and members of the general public, who helped us in this fight against the pandemic, and especially frontline healthcare workers.
‘Those who wore masks and gowns, who were exposed to COVID patients and COVID samples in the course of their work every day, even before there were any vaccines.’
Ireland may be the first country to actively reward all its citizens for efforts made during the pandemic, and it is wonderful to see it’s using the feast days of two of the country’s patron saints to express gratitude.