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New Covid-19 restrictions for Kildare, Laois and Offaly to kick in from midnight

The Government announced the measures on the back of NPHET advice following a spike in cases in recent days.

Updated Aug 7th 2020, 6:23 PM

REGIONAL RESTRICTIONS FOR Kildare, Laois and Offaly will come into effect from midnight following an increase of Covid-19 cases in the three counties over the past two weeks. 

Residents in these three counties are advised not to travel outside of their county in a bid to prevent transmission of the virus. People are asked to only undertake essential travel at this time, such as to attend medical appointments, for vital family reasons, for farming purposes or to travel to and from work that cannot be done from home. 

People travelling into these counties are asked to do so only for essential reasons. 

Pubs and restaurants are to operate as takeaway only. Childcare facilities will remain open as will retail outlets.  

People are advised not to use public transport unless necessary in the three counties, and are asked not to share private vehicles with people from outside of their household. 

The restrictions will come into effect from midnight and last for two weeks. 

Outdoor gatherings are to be set at a maximum of 15 people. Indoors gatherings are to be set at a maximum of six people. 

Cinemas, theatres, gyms, bingo halls and swimming pools are also to close. People who are already staying in hotels in the three counties are allowed to remain for the duration of their booking, but hotels will otherwise be limited to non-social and non-tourism operations.

Funerals are to be limited to a maximum of 6 people for any indoor part and 25 for any outdoor part. 

Visiting is to be stopped in hospitals, prisons and long-term residential care facilities, except in exceptional circumstances. 

Last night, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said almost half the new cases over the past two weeks were located in those counties and warned members of the public to “double down” their efforts to follow public health advice. 

At a briefing from the Department of Health last night, he said NPHET was reviewing the circumstances around the outbreaks and would “provide more specific detail and guidance” today. 

Glynn and other health officials had not ruled out regional restrictions and Government today confirmed that this step was needed to halt the spread of the virus. 

The outbreak is largely associated with meat processing factories in the region, and to some degree direct provision centres which are home to a number of factory workers. 

O’Brien Fine Foods in Timahoe, Co Kildare moved to halt its meat processing operation, with the exception of a handful of warehouse staff, after around 80 of its more than 240 workers tested positive. 

In an update this evening, the company said they had tested a further 42 employees with six found to be positive for Covid-19. It said the level of “asymptomatic infectivity appears to be very high”.

Another meat factory in Naas, Co Kildare was also a confirmed site of a cluster in the region and shut its operation after more than 30 staff members tested positive. 

Some 69 new cases were confirmed nationwide yesterday by health officials, with NPHET announcing 98 new cases to be announced today – many of which are associated with the clusters in the three midlands counties. 

Thirty-five were in Kildare; 26 in Offaly; and five in Laois. 

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Today marks the first time regional restrictions have been introduced in Ireland since the roadmap to recovery began, but an increase in new cases globally has lead other countries including Scotland, Spain and Australia take similar action in recent weeks.

Testing

In a separate statement this evening, the HSE confirmed it was providing additional resources to its public health teams in the three counties and that there would be a particular focus on contact tracing. 

The National Ambulance Service has mobilised to provide additional pop-up testing facilities in the region from tomorrow, the Executive said. 

“Our regional Community Response Teams will provide communications and any necessary support to Long Term Residential Care facilities in Laois, Offaly and Kildare, including all nursing homes, both public and private,” it added.  

With reporting by Conor McCrave 

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