Lockdown On The Way For Ireland

Lockdown On The Way For Ireland
Cabinet Meets Today To Discuss New Covid-19 Restrictions

Lockdown on the way for Ireland

The cabinet meets today to discuss NPHET’s second call for a Level 5 lockdown. It is widely expected that the government will increase restrictions. Minister for Higher Education and former Minister for Health, Simon Harris, said at the weekend that extra measures would be taken. “The Government will act tomorrow. The action will be decisive, and the action will be right across the country – it will be nationwide action.” Speaking about the Government’s decision, taken two weeks ago, to reject NPHET’s advice to go to Level 5 for a period of 4 weeks, opting instead to move the entire country to Level 3, Mr Harris said that Level 3 restrictions hadn’t worked.

Yesterday, the daily record for new Covid-19 cases was broken yet again. 1,283 cases were notified. A total of 298 confirmed coronavirus patients are in hospitals around the country. 31 patients are in intensive care units. HSE boss Paul Reid has advised that capacity is not, as yet, a problem in hospitals generally nor in ICUs.

While NPHET has signalled the need for an immediate move to Level 5, full lockdown with only schools and essential retail remaining open, it is expected that the Government will move to a level somewhere between Level 4 and Level 5. Minister Harris said that any new restrictions would be quite different from those imposed in March and April.

So, what can we expect the outcome of the cabinet meeting to be? The Government’s Living With Covid plan sets out clear parameters.

What Can We Expect?

Level 4

  • No visitors to homes permitted. No social or family gatherings
  • Maximum 6 attendees at a weddings
  • Indoor gatherings banned
  • Outdoor gatherings limited to 15 people max.
  • No dance or exercise classes. Individual training indoors permitted
  • Gyms and leisure centres must close
  • Maximum 25 attendees at funerals
  • Museums and galleries closed
  • Bars and restaurants – takeaway only. Outdoor seating areas limited to 15 people
  • No travel, except for essential/compassionate trips, outside your county
  • Schools, colleges and childcare facilities remain open
  • 25% capacity limit on public transport
  • All buts essential retail must close

Level 5

  • Stay at home except for exercise
  • Exercise limited to within 5K of home
  • All but essential workers must stay at home
  • No gatherings bar funerals and weddings
  • 6 guests limit at weddings. Maximum 10 mourners at funerals
  • Pubs can only offer a delivery service
  • Schools, colleges and childcare facilities remain open

How Long?

While NPHET has recommended 6 weeks at Level 5, the Government will likely restrict any increase in measures to a shorter period. It is understood that the cabinet is considering a 3-4 week period of more severe restrictions. Various ministers have signalled that the Government is striving to balance necessary measures to slow the spread of Covid-19 with wider public health needs and the effects of any measures on the economy.

A spokesperson for retailers has called upon the Government to class all retail outlets as essential in the run-up to Christmas. If a 6-week lockdown is imposed, the spokesman said, that would lead to extra pressure on shops and extra risk of virus spread in the 4 week period leading up to Christmas.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald called upon the Government to restore the Pandemic Unemployment Payment to previous levels to support the many thousands of people who will, once again, be out of work. Ms McDonald said that this would “rekindle the feeling that we are all in this together.”

The announcement of any decision on moving the country to a higher level of restrictions is expected this evening.