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Taoiseach confirms Dublin to enter Level 3, including ban on indoor dining for three weeks

The decision comes following a recommendation from NPHET.

Image: Julien Behal Photography

THE CABINET HAS agreed that Dublin will face a range of new restrictions, as it moves to Level Three of the government’s plan for living with Covid-19. 

NPHET made the recommendation yesterday evening, with Cabinet signing off on the decision today after the Cabinet Sub-Committee on coronavirus met this morning.

The Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions will take effect from midnight, and last for three weeks.

The recommendation was widely expected, after a spike in cases in the capital over the last two weeks.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said this evening that the “threat is growing” from Covid-19 and despite people’s best efforts, “we are in a very dangerous place”. 

“I understand how frustrated people are,” he said. “Only we as a people working together, can slow the new wave of the virus.

Martin said he was aware of “how exhausting and infuriating this is” and he knew the additional restrictions “will make people angry”.

He added: “These restrictions will help reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.”

A number of more tightened restrictions apply when an area is at Level 3.

One of the most contentious measures announced this evening is the closure of restaurants and pubs serving food. These businesses can still operate but only if they can serve in outdoor areas and with a maximum of 15 people.

Businesses today criticised the NPHET recommendation, even as senior health officials stressed the need to reduce opportunities for people to gather and congregate. 

Elsewhere in the new restrictions, people from just one other household can visit your home or garden, which is a restriction already in place in Dublin now. No social or family gatherings should take place in other settings.

People are urged to stay in Dublin apart from work, education and other essential purposes. This includes for domestic and international travel. People from other counties can pass through Dublin to get to the port/airport.

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Schools and creches will remain open, as will outdoor playgrounds and parks.

Under Level 3, people should work from home unless it is absolutely necessary to attend work in person.

Weddings can have a maximum of 25 in attendance, but for this weekend 50 people will be permitted, the government has confirmed.

Business supports

Martin also outlined that financial aid would be provided to sectors affected by the latest restrictions. 

“We will immediately invest €30 million in a top-up to the Restart Plus grant for Dublin businesses,” he said. “This will be open to all businesses affected by these measures including those that have already availed of the original grant.

“The government has also agreed an additional €5 million package to support those affected in the arts, culture, sports and tourism sectors in Dublin.”

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also announced a number of funding initiatives to help Dublin businesses.

He added: “Some people have sadly been laid off for a second time in one year. For some businesses who were just getting up and running again, having to close again and starting to wonder if their businesses can ever survive.

“For people who might be laid off today or tomorrow, I want to assure you that you are eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and in some cases your employer may decide to keep you on for those three weeks using the wage subsidy (scheme).

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“For businesses, I know this is going to be really tough. It’s not what you expected this September and we are going to stand behind you.”

Earlier today, Professor Philip Nolan, chair of NPHET’s Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, explained the public health rationale for recommending that pubs and restaurants close for indoor dining.

He said: “We would like to go back and find out where people are getting the virus, but we don’t have the time or resources to pursue this academic exercise.”

On Twitter, he said: “We have lots of international evidence from better resourced systems on how the virus transmits: we know that social settings, including bars and restaurants, drive community transmission.”

Nolan said that the virus was being picked up houses, gyms, bars and restaurants. “Sadly, unless we stop mixing in these settings, we know the disease will spiral out of control,” he added. 

It is hoped that these new measures can help reverse the worrying trends in Dublin seen in recent weeks.

The 14-day incidence of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Dublin is at 104, followed by Louth on 76.8 and Leitrim on 71.8, according to figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

Earlier today, a further 253 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland with 116 of the new cases in Dublin. 

The Taoiseach added that “we need to act now and decisively” to try to stem the spread of the virus. 

“As a nation, throughout our history, we have come through every manner of trial and hardship. And this too will pass,” he said. 

About the author:

Sean Murray

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