Sat, 24 Oct 2020

DUBLIN, Ireland - The Irish government has taken drastic action to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease Covid-19 in the county of Dublin.

From midnight Friday night the entire county of Dublin was placed on Level 3 under the Plan for Living with Covid-19. This action is, the government said, is in response to the deteriorating situation with the virus in Dublin.

The rest of Ireland remains at Level 2.

Dublin will be at Level 3 for a period of 3 weeks, until Friday 9 October, at which time the government says it will further review the situation.

The government has also announced a package of measures to assist Dublin businesses, with a 30% top-up to the Restart Plus grant and other measures at an estimated additional cost of €30 million.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has advised that the level and pattern of cases in Dublin is very different to anywhere else in the country. The high incidence rate and high growth rate means that the force of infection is currently 3 to five times greater than the rest of Ireland. The team says there is now a very real risk of widespread transmission both across County Dublin but also to other areas of Ireland.

The NPHET recommendations, they say, are targeted specifically at limiting social contacts and reducing congregation. Given the severity of the epidemiological situation in Dublin, NPHET concluded that there is a necessity to apply measures at the limit of the options available under Level 3.

Placing Dublin at Level 3 has the following implications for those living or working in Dublin:

- Visitors to private homes and gardens should be limited to a maximum number of 6 from one other household.
- No social/family gatherings should take place, with exemptions to this for weddings and funerals (see below).
- No organised indoor gatherings should take place. Organised outdoor gatherings are permitted, up to a maximum of 15 people.
- People living in Dublin should remain in the county (i.e. they must not leave Dublin to travel either domestically or internationally), with the exception of those who must travel for work, education and other essential purposes.
- People living outside of Dublin should not travel to Dublin, with the exception of those who must travel for work, education and other essential purposes.
- People working in Dublin are asked to work from home unless absolutely necessary.
- Schools, Early Learning and Childcare services should remain open. Adult and Higher Education Institutions should remain open, but are asked to review protective measures and take steps to limit congregation as much as possible.
- You are asked to walk or cycle where possible so that public transport is available for use by essential workers and for essential work only.

Sports
- No matches or other sporting events should take place, with the exception of professional, elite, inter county and senior club championship all to take place behind closed doors.
- Horse racing may continue, but behind closed doors.
- Non-contact training activities can continue in the outdoors and in pods of up to 15, with certain exemptions (see below).
- Indoor training should be confined to individuals only and no classes are to take place.
- All retail shops and shopping centres may remain open. All services such as hairdressers, beauticians, barbers, opticians etc. may remain open.
- Libraries will be available for e services and call and collect.
- All outdoor playgrounds, play areas, parks remain open.
Gyms/leisure centres, swimming pools may remain open for individual use only and with protective measures.

Hotels, Guesthouses and B&Bs may remain open, but with services limited to residents.
- The Framework allows for some flexibility in a number of measures in Level 3. Where the incidence of the disease is rising, it is necessary to have the option to respond on a proportionate basis, reflecting the nature of the increase. Level 3 allows for a range of restrictions on indoor dining, including limitations on groups gathering, reduced capacity and earlier closing times or a complete restriction on indoor dining.
- All options within that range were considered on this occasion. However, given the severity of the situation with the virus in Dublin, the public health advice is, on balance, that there is now a necessity to apply measures at the limit of the options available under Level 3 which is to no longer permit indoor dining. Restaurants and Cafes (including bars/pubs serving food) may remain open for take-away and delivery and outdoor dining to a maximum of 15 people.
Those aged over 70 and the medically vulnerable are advised to continue to exercise personal judgement.
- It is recommended that they stay at home as much as possible, limit engagement to a very small network for short periods of time, while remaining physically distanced.
- When taking exercise outdoors, it is important to maintain 2 metres distance from others and wash hands on returning home.
- It is recommended to shop during designated hours only, while wearing a face covering, and to avoid public transport.
- Religious services will move online, though places of worship may remain open for private prayer.
- All indoor museums, galleries, cinemas and other cultural attractions should close.
- As the new restrictions come into force from midnight, Culture Night will go ahead on Friday 18th September as planned.

- Activities associated with the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) will also proceed as planned.

Business Supports

In recognition of the impact of these restrictions on businesses in Dublin, the government says it has decided to provide for a 30% top-up to the Restart Plus grant to help support those affected through the three-week period. Businesses who have previously benefited from the Restart Grant will be eligible to re-apply for this top-up. This will be available immediately through the normal application process at an estimated additional cost of €30m.

In addition, applications from Dublin will be prioritised for the wide range of existing loan and voucher schemes available to assist businesses affected by Covid-19.

Other employment and income supports, including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, as well as the full range of employment, training and support services for affected workers, will also continue to be made available and funded by the government.

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