The Republic of Ireland has announced a new six-week lockdown as the
country, like many in Europe, faces a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases.
As of Wednesday night/Thursday morning, the country is being placed on
Level 5 – the highest level – of the country’s ‘Plan for Living with
Covid’. The government has decided however to keep schools and childcare
facilities open in order to support families and continue education.
“We work to suppress the virus when it is growing, and we work to reopen
as much of our society and economy as possible when it is safe to do so,”
said Ireland’s prime minister Micheál Martin. “Until we have a safe
vaccine, we must continue in that pattern.”
Martin continued: “In the effort to suppress the virus we have already
introduced what is probably Europe’s strictest regime. As a result of this,
we can see some evidence that these restrictions have been effective in
slowing the growth and spread of the virus.
“However, as the daily figures show, these restrictions, on their own,
have not been enough to significantly reduce the levels of infection. So,
while we have slowed the spread of the virus, this has not been enough and
further action is now required.”
Full lockdown ‘simply not a realistic option’
Commenting on calls for the government to take a ‘Zero Covid’ approach,
a total lockdown where borders are shut until the virus has been
eliminated, Martin said: “[G]iven our geographic location and proximity to
Britain and mainland Europe, and with two jurisdictions on our island, the
advice of NPHET is, and our view as a Government is that this is simply not
a realistic option.”
The country’s trade body Retail Ireland described the move as a “serious
blow” to non-essential retailers, many of which were counting on the run-up
to Christmas to compensate for significant revenue losses incurred earlier
in the year.
Retail Ireland director Arnold Dillon said: “Many retailers are facing
into a deeply uncertain Christmas trading period. Many thousands of
businesses will have to close and tens of thousands of retail workers will
be out of work.
“It is important that customers support affected businesses through
online and click and collect services where possible. While important
government supports are in place, those retailers without a developed
online offering are particularly exposed.
“The restoration of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will provide
important support to many and is very welcome. It is crucial that these
measures work and we are in a place to reopen retail in advance of
Christmas. We simply cannot contemplate serious rolling restrictions into
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