From midnight on October 22nd and for at least the next six weeks, Ireland will be returning once again be under full lockdown restrictions and are the first EU country to do so.
Prime Minister Michael Martin announced that school will still be allowed to stay open but has otherwise issued a nationwide ‘stay home’ order.
The measures will be in effect for at least six weeks and will see all non-essential stores close alongside pubs and restaurants which will be limited to takeaway or delivery only. Martin spoke to the nation in a televised address saying:
Everyone in the country is being asked to stay at home.
Under the new lockdown, only essential workers are being permitted to travel to work and residents will only be allowed to exercise within a 5km radius of their homes. If caught violating the rules the government announced that a penalty will be imposed.
Public transportation will also only be running at 25% capacity in order to serve essential workers only.
However, Martin has announced that schools and creches will still be permitted to open ‘because we cannot and will not allow our children and young people's futures to be another victim of this disease.’
A ban will also be extended for indoor household mixing and events but two households will still be able to meet outdoors in parks and outdoor venues.
A ‘social bubble’ programme will also be set in place for those who are living alone, at risk of social isolation or mental health issues to reduce the mental health impact of the lockdown.
Prime Minister Michael Martin claims that Ireland possibly has ‘Europe’s strictest regime’ in place at the moment but that the lockdown is necessary to control the spread of the virus. Martin gave out a small message of hope:
If we pull together over the next six weeks, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way.
So far the republic has suffered from 1,852 deaths from coronavirus and have exercised strict cautions in order to not raise the number higher. So far the country has no ‘green light’ countries on their travel lists and has exercised ‘Europe’s longest’ pub closures.
However, the news of the lockdownhas not been received well by everyone and Lobby Group Retail Ireland pointed out that ‘tens of thousands of people will be out of work’ while the restrictions are in place.
Public Health Chiefs had advised the government to start another lockdown two weeks ago. But, deputy PM Leo Varadkar claimed that the proposed four-week lockdown was not ‘thought out enough’ at the time.