Dublin faces ‘level 3’ lockdown within days if cases keep soaring
‘Advice’ to stay inside county lines may be firmed up into rule
The Taoiseach came under fire in the Dáil where Labour Party leader Alan Kelly accused Mr Donnelly of “contradicting” the new plan
September 16 2020 02:30
Dublin could be placed in a local lockdown within days as the rise in cases of Covid-19 shows no sign of slowing down.
It is widely expected that the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) will advise that more severe measures be introduced for the capital when it meets tomorrow.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said last night he would be asking people in Dublin who were planning staycations not to go ahead with them.
The largest one-day spike in cases of Covid-19 since May – 357 cases – was reported last night with three people dying with the virus.
It comes as the threat of tighter curbs in Dublin escalated with 218 of yesterday’s 357 cases reported in the capital.
It is expected the current advice to Dubliners not to make non-essential journeys outside the county boundary may be stepped up and there will be firmer instructions on travel around the country.
The tougher restrictions would mean Dublin would be moved up to Level 3 of the Government’s five-level ‘Plan for Living with Covid-19’, which was launched yesterday.
Official government advice on the first phase of restrictions for Dublin were amended and updated on at least two occasions after the plan was published. However, the capital was still kept on Level 2 – the same as the rest of the country.
The latest restrictions include a ban on more than two households meeting, a limit of 100 people at any outdoor sporting event and the postponement of the reopening of pubs that don’t serve food next week.
The official advice also says people living in Dublin should be “encouraged to limit travel outside the region, and only meet one other household when outside the county”.
However, while the advice was being published online, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly told RTÉ’s News At One that people living in the capital could “absolutely” travel outside the county.
The Taoiseach came under fire in the Dáil where Labour Party leader Alan Kelly accused Mr Donnelly of “contradicting” the new plan.
“This isn’t a five-point plan. This is a five and a half point plan. We can’t have Dublin at two-and-a-half,” Mr Kelly said.
“The virus doesn’t distinguish between Dublin and Kildare, or between Laois and Offaly.
“We support the five-point plan – but we don’t support the 5.5 point plan. By tonight, give clear advice.”
Mr Martin said: “Nphet gave us advice on Dublin. We didn’t ignore it. We didn’t get advice to move Dublin to Level 3.
“Nphet will meet again on Thursday and there could be different advice.”
Not every county would be the same and some would demand a different response.
Prof Ivan Perry, Prof of Public Health at UCC, said yesterday he expected that when Nphet meets tomorrow, restrictions in Dublin will be have to be increased because of the ongoing spread of the infection.
Earlier, Professor Sam McConkey warned there could be 5,000 daily cases of the virus in Dublin at the end of October if action is not taken.
Professor Kingston Mills of TCD said the testing and tracing system still needed improvement and was essential to tackling the spread of the virus in Dublin and other counties.
The Irish College of General Practitioners’ clinical lead on Covid-19, Dr Nuala O’Connor, said: “Dublin numbers have increased ten-fold in the past two months.
“If this continues, we won’t be able to continue to protect our older population and those who are medically vulnerable who run the risk of a more severe course and higher risk of dying from Covid-19.”
Meanwhile, senior Garda officers are awaiting new public health regulations to determine how they will police them.
Gardaí have already increased the number of high-visibility patrols in the capital.
However, officers say many of the current provisions are merely guidelines and they cannot, for example, go into a private house to check the number of people there without the owner’s consent or clear evidence there has been a breach of the law.