Moving Dublin to Level 3 would be a significant step, the Taoiseach said.
CONCERNS ARE GROWING in government that Dublin may be moved to Level Three of the new grand plan for living with Covid-19.
The new framework has five levels. At each level, there are different restrictions in place based on the current status of Covid-19 in the country.
If at Level One, a county is deemed to be coping quite well with Covid and the loosest possible guidelines are in place. Level Five is not where the country – or any county – wants to be, as it would be akin to the full lockdown experienced in April and May.
The Taoiseach said yesterday that every county in the country is currently at Level Two.
This means that a range of restrictions are in place, including strict guidance on social and family gatherings.
Under the current Level 2, visitors from 1-3 other households up to a maximum of six people can gather in another household.
For most counties, this has been set at six people from three households.
In Dublin, which is facing “additional measures”, the six-person limit is also in place but visitors can be from just one other household only.
Dubliners are also encouraged to limit travel outside the region, if possible.
Three further Covid-19 deaths were reported in Ireland yesterday.
There have been 357 new cases of the virus confirmed in the last 24-hour reporting period, 218 of which were in Dublin.
Due to the growing number of cases, government sources say they are worried that Dublin may be perilously close to getting upgraded to Level Three level.
NPHET is due to meet to discuss the situation in the capital again on Thursday.
Dublin ‘wet pubs’ have already been told that they cannot reopen their doors on 21 September.
Under Level Three, pubs, museums and other indoor cultural venues would be closed.
Visitors from only one other household would be permitted, and no gatherings at all would be permitted in social settings.
No organised indoor gathering (theatre event, cinema, training event, conference etc.) would be permitted and outdoor gatherings of only up to 15 would be allowed.
“Dublin situation is not looking good,” one Fine Gael minister told TheJournal.ie, adding the numbers are “too high”.
A Fianna Fáil minister said whether Dublin moves down a level compared to the rest of the country will be determined on Thursday, when further recommendations are made by public health officials. They said the 14-day rate is one to watch, noting that it is rising above 100. Kildare was higher when a lockdown was imposed, they pointed out.
However, Kildare is not a fair comparison. Another minister indicated that if Dublin moved to stricter restrictions on Thursday, the measures would not be on par with other European cities which are at a similar or higher levels of the virus.
They pointed out that Belfast, Madrid and Paris have either the same or higher incidence rates than Dublin – yet they are not facing the same restrictive measures that would feature in Level 3.
They said some might think the government is moving too fast to impose restrictions on the capital, saying that Ireland has generally leaned on the stricter side of the measures.
The Taoiseach said a range of metrics will be considered when the decision needs to be taken to move up or down a level, and that it will not solely be based on daily case levels.
One government source said escalating to higher phases will not be a decision the Cabinet takes lightly, stating that while public health issues must be considered, considerations will also have to be given as to how the government would pay supports for any businesses mandated to close.
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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said: “This isn’t about Dublin versus anywhere else.
“Moving from Level 2 to Level 3 has a serious impact on jobs, it has a serious impact on how we can live our lives.”
The Health Minister said the National Public Health Emergency Team was urging people in Dublin to keep those gatherings limited to people from just one extra household.
“We’re all watching what’s going on in Dublin, the people of Dublin understand that the situation is escalating very, very quickly and people in Dublin, I think, welcome the public health doctors providing this advice,” he said.
The Taoiseach said moving to Level 3 was a significant step and would result in major limitations on citizens.