Ireland's Living with Covid plan

Ireland unveils Living with Covid-19 plan

Ireland unveils Living with Covid-19 plan

More restrictive measures are being introduced in Dublin

At a press briefing today, the Irish government unveiled its medium-term plan for Living with Covid-19. Prime Minister Micheál Martin stressed that protecting public health will take precedence over anything else. "Each of us has a personal responsibility to try and limit the spread (of the coronavirus)," he said, quoted by RTE. The new measures will come into effect from midnight, and span over the next six to nine months as a viable vaccine may be months away.

Explaining the levels

The new roadmap consists of five levels of restrictions, from 1 to 5. The lower levels will stay in place when infection rate is low, outbreaks are isolated and community transmission is slow. The higher levels will be activated when cases spike and the disease spreads rapidly. At Level 5 domestic travel restrictions will be introduced, similar to those during the national lockdown.

Level 1 unlocks the least restrictive regime. It is currently not in force anywhere as the whole of Ireland (with some exceptions for Dublin) is on Level 2. It is noteworthy that even at Level 1, nightclubs, discos and casinos will remain closed.  

Under Level 2, home visits are limited to six persons from maximum three other households. Weddings and funerals are capped at 50 people present. Wet pubs (those that do not serve food) can open on 21 September with stringent protective measures in place.

Regarding sporting, culture and art events, up to 100 patrons/spectators are allowed outdoors and 50 patrons/spectators indoors. Outdoor stadia and arenas with a minimum capacity of 5 000 can accept up to 200 attendees. Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools can open with protective measures and social distancing in place.

People are still encouraged to work from home. International travel will be governed by European Commission proposals.

Key business supports will remain in place until 31 March 2021. A EUR 600m winter package to stabilize the health services up to next March will be introduced.

Special measures in Dublin

Over the last week, 57 percent of the new coronavirus cases in Ireland (31 192 overall at a rate of 45.4 cases per 100 000 people) occurred in Dublin. This prompted the government to tighten the screws in the capital using soft gloves.  

Deputy PM Leo Varadkar called on Dubliners to follow the four Ws: "Welcome no more than one other household to your home, wash your hands, watch your distance - stay two metres apart - and wear a face covering when necessary."

Unlike the rest of the country, wet pubs in Dublin will not reopen next week. Up to six people will be able to visit another person's home but they must all come from a single household. Dublin outdoor venues with a 5 000 capacity may not yet enjoy the exemption of up to 200 spectators. Dubliners are also strongly advised to avoid travelling outside the capital where possible and limit their contacts outside the county to one other household.

Opposition outcry

The opposition Sinn Féin has described the Government's plan for Living with Covid-19 as "incoherent" and leaving Dublin in "limbo of between level 2 and 3". Without a rapid testing and tracing capacity the government's plan "is not worth the paper it is written on", the party health spokesperson told RTE.



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