The morning after Boris Johnson's government decided that the United Kingdom will enter into lockdown as the fight against the spread of coronavirus intensifies, Irish comedian and podcaster Jarlath Regan joined Tuesday's OTB AM live from his home in London.
A long-time resident of England, Jarlath Regan, conscientious of measures being taken elsewhere to fight the spread of coronavirus in his own home, was nevertheless shocked by Monday evening's speech by the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
"The head is melted," he admitted on Tuesday's OTB AM. "The natural response is to say that everything is grand, but no, the head is properly melted at this stage."
After quickly adapting to the precautions being taken in Ireland and other countries, it was to the amusement of many British people around him that Regan acknowledged the threat of coronavirus long before the government itself.
"I think Irish people have much more skepticism toward leadership and the man in the suit," he reasoned. "We don't see him as the same kind of authority. Whereas if Boris says, 'Ya, keep going to the pub,' it confuses people here.
"I don't want to badmouth every English person I've come into contact with but that said, there is an ignorance everywhere. We were laughed at for a very long time for sanitising and spraying things down, myself and my wife, but most of those people have subsequently apologised.
"A lot of comics I met who said that they could handle it. Well, it isn't about you, that's what I kept saying. They're going to struggle now with the not-knowing when this will end."
In a household where an underlying health condition means that Regan's wife is more susceptible to the virus than most, the question regarding what the best course of action is for the Irish comedian and his family is constantly on his mind.
Am I the only Irish person in the UK who can’t figure out whether I should now upsticks and get out of here before it all goes haywire?
— Jarlath Regan (@Jarlath) March 23, 2020
On Monday evening, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a speech to the United Kingdom whereby a lockdown of all non-essential outdoor activity was enforced.
A startling development for all people therein, Regan, who hosts the popular An Irishman Abroad podcast, couldn't help but consider the thoughts of those Irish natives currently residing in the UK.
"Last night, I went on Twitter and asked whether I was the only Irish person here thinking I should bail out of the UK," he explained. "This was before the speech and the response was just insane.
"It was overwhelming that I was not alone. A lot of Irish people over here are feeling that."
Nevertheless, with all instruction being that one ought to remain indoors and continue to isolate themselves from other individuals, Regan is aware that an unexpected return home may not be the best course of action generally speaking.
"The concern then is whether that's riskier and more self-concerned than anything you could do," he queried. "First of all, it increases the probability that you could contract it in transit and that you could spread it if you already have it.
"If you go, you're doing the opposite of what you're being told to do. You're flying in the face of the recommendation because it is not 'essential' travel. Furthermore, you're talking about life or death because you'd be coming home in all likelihood to elderly relatives.
"That's where I would have to stay. I would have to isolate for 14 days if I came back, just like all those lads coming back from Cheltenham, right, right?"
It’s very risky for everyone to try to return to Ireland from London but Christ it is tempting at this stage.
— Jarlath Regan (@Jarlath) March 23, 2020
On Tuesday's OTB AM, Jarlath Regan also considered what fresh purpose his long-running podcast would take on in these uncertain circumstances.
"I want to try and calm people," he noted of a podcast closing in on its 400th episode. "You can feel very alone abroad and some people back home just won't understand how isolated you can feel.
"Each episode now is about walking along that path."
Crucially, it has become increasingly apparent to Regan that the familiarity and joy of his podcast is wanted now perhaps more than ever.
"Our sponsor disappeared overnight," he admitted. "They had been great for years but they're gone now and it is the public and Irish abroad who have stepped and allowed us to keep the lights on."