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'People are upset': Councils close allotments because of Covid-19

Locals have raised concerns about the closure of the allotments.

Image: Shutterstock/audaxl

CONCERNS HAVE BEEN raised at the decision of local councils to close allotments for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis. 

In an email to allotment holders on Tuesday, Fingal County Council said that “all allotments are now closed until further notice”.

Referencing the restrictions introduced by the government to tackle the spread of the virus, the email said that the allotments will re-open once the council’s “Crisis Management Team advises that we can do so”.

Fingal County Council manages around 900 allotments at four different locations. The annual cost of joining the local allotment association is €10 – further fees vary depending on the plot sizes

It’s not the only council to close allotments. Dublin City Council confirmed to TheJournal.ie that it has closed all allotments in council-run parks, as have other councils. The council runs a number of allotments across the city. 

The decision to close allotments have sparked concern among locals. Sinn Féin TD for Fingal, Louise O’Reilly, told TheJournal.ie said that the decision had shocked local people – especially those who had lost their jobs.

She said she’d been contacted by one man who had lost his job and now can’t access food in his allotment.

“There was no consultation with plot-holders and no real explanation,” she said. “They’re really upset.”

“I can’t see that it tallies with government advice,” O’Reilly said. “The allotments are open-air and physical distancing is possible.”

“The decision to close allotments was on foot of last Friday’s directive from Government in relation to new measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19. Following inquiries from allotment users in Fingal, clarification was sought and the Government/Public Health advice is that there is no exemption for allotments for a number of reasons,” a spokesperson for Fingal County Council said. 

“They do not fall under the food production exemption, there is no way to manage who has access to allotments and there is no way to enforce social distancing once people are on-site,” the spokesperson said.

“These measures have been introduced to protect our communities and particularly older people and those who are medically vulnerable, by slowing the spread of the virus.”

Concerns about the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis continue to grow, with over 500,000 people using social welfare at the end of March. 

The total number of confirmed cases in Ireland is currently at 3,447, with 85 deaths in total from the virus.

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