Ireland Announces 6-Week Lockdown Restrictions

Carolyn Crist

October 20, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Ireland announced an emergency lockdown that will start at midnight on Wednesday and last for six weeks, according to The Telegraph.

The restrictions include some of the toughest across Europe in an effort to slow a surge in COVID-19 cases. Residents will be banned from traveling more than three miles from their homes other than for work or essential travel, and pubs and restaurants will be closed other than for takeout meals.

"The evidence of a potentially grave situation arising in the weeks ahead is now too strong," Michael Martin, the prime minister of Ireland, said in a national address on Monday night.

"If we pull together over the next six weeks, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way," he said. "The journey will not be easy, but the future is in our hands."

Non-essential retail will also be closed, including salons and gyms, but schools and essential services such as construction will remain open. Hotels can remain open if they provide rooms for essential workers. Public transportation will operate at 25% capacity.

The Level 5 restrictions mark the highest level of COVID-19 restrictions in the country. Health officials recommended moving to Level 5 two weeks ago, but government officials declined.

On Sunday, Ireland broke its daily record of coronavirus cases for the fifth time in nine days, The Telegraph reported. The country now has the 12th highest rate of cases among 31 countries in Europe.

Under the lockdown guidelines, people can’t visit each other’s homes, and gatherings will be banned other than weddings and funerals limited to 25 guests, according to The Guardian. People who live alone or parent alone can meet with another household as part of a "support bubble."

Later this week, officials will announce details about fines for those who break the three-mile travel limit, the news outlet reported.

Periodic lockdowns could become necessary, Martin suggested.

"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," he said. "Until we have a safe vaccine, we must continue in that pattern."

Sources

The Telegraph, "Ireland announces emergency six-week lockdown with some of Europe's toughest restrictions."

Department of the Prime Minister, "Statement of An Taoiseach Michael Martin announcing Ireland moving to Level 5."

The Guardian, "Ireland to impose 5km travel limit in strict new Covid lockdown."

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