Ireland moves to stricter Covid restrictions but rejects full lockdown

The Republic of Ireland will face tighter restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19 – but the country’s government has rejected advice to move to the strictest measures.

For three weeks Ireland will move to level three of the Government’s plan to live with Covid-19.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said there will also be measures to increase compliance on the new restrictions which come into effect at midnight on Tuesday.

The decision comes after the Government rejected advice from public health officials to introduce the highest level of measure.

Speaking at Government Buildings in Dublin, Mr Martin defended the Government’s decision not to implement recommendations from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

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He said the potential implications of moving to a lockdown are ‘severe and very different’ from those the country faced earlier this year.

‘It could involve the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs with these concentrated in families and communities, which are already experiencing difficulties,’ Mr Martin warned.

‘This is not about public health and businesses competing against each other, it’s about protecting lives and livelihoods.

‘We can’t do one without the other. I believe that we all understand what we have to do and I have confidence that we can have the impact this requires and we need to do it now.

‘If we all act now, we can stop the need to go further with introducing level four and five restrictions. I have no doubt that we can and will get through this.’

He said that while there is evidence people are following guidelines, there are others who are taking a more ‘lax attitude’.

‘Whether it is about inviting others to our homes, or how we behave in public settings, the virus is spreading because people are allowing it to spread,’ Mr Martin continued.

‘The government has been informed by NPHET that recent trends and most parts of the country are a major concern.

‘If we do not alter these trends there will be a serious impact, there is no doubt whatsoever about this.

‘We must respond and the challenge is to be as effective and proportionate as possible.’

The decision comes following a Cabinet meeting this evening to discuss the recommendations made by chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan and NPHET.

Dr Holohan warned there has been a ‘significant and concerning deterioration’ in the epidemiological situation nationally.

He said on Monday: ‘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.’

Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer, said: ‘Our core priorities have to be protected.

‘We must work together to keep our non-Covid health services open, keep our children in education and protect the lives of the most vulnerable to this disease.

‘Solidarity is now more important than ever as we work to once again suppress this virus in our communities.”

Sinn Fein’s David Cullinane claimed the public has been left ‘very confused’ by the Government’s position.

‘The Government has the responsibility to explain its decisions, as NPHET has an obligation to explain theirs,’ he added.

On Monday an additional 518 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed by the Department of Health. There were no further deaths.

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