The Daily Telegraph
Irish ministers reject experts’ call for return to lockdown
THE Irish government i s to reject expert advice to introduce the highest level of restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) recommended that all 26 counties be elevated to level five restrictions for the next four weeks.
It is understood the Government will instead move the whole country to level three, which is already in place across Dublin and Donegal.
Under level five, people would be asked to stay at home, except to exercise within 5km, with only essential retailers allowed to stay open.
Under level three, people can only meet one other household, and there are no indoor gatherings allowed. Bars and restaurants remain open, but public transport is restricted, and long-distance domestic travel discouraged.
Cabinet met yesterday to discuss the recommendations after the coalition leaders spoke to Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer, about proposals for tighter restrictions, which would have seen the country return to lockdown.
The experts made the recommendations as the country struggles to get to grips with rising infections, with almost 1,000 cases confirmed over the weekend. Dr Holohan warned there has been a “significant and concerning” increase in Covid-19 infections.
He said: “It is vital that we do everything in our power now to arrest the current trajectory nationally and very substantially suppress the virus back down to a low level of transmission in advance of the winter months.
“Do not become distracted from the core public health messages: wash hands regularly, keep your distance, wear face coverings where appropriate, avoid crowded environments, cut your social contacts down to minimum levels, know the symptoms, and isolate yourself and contact your GP immediately if you experience them.”
Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer, added: “Solidarity is more important than ever as we work to suppress this virus in our communities.”
Josepha Madigan, a minister of state, said that if level three did not work to curb the spread of the virus, the country would move to level five.
She told RTE: “If Level 3 does not work nationwide then we will be going to Level 5. It is a very big decision that they would make to in any way deviate from what Nphet is saying, but that’s not to say that it would be the wrong decision, because there other factors that they have to consider.
“No matter what happens, this is a real warning to the Irish people.”