The Daily Telegraph

Irish min­is­ters re­ject ex­perts’ call for re­turn to lock­down

- By Our For­eign Staff Health · Dublin · Level-5 Inc. · National Public Health Emergency Team

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.”

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