Ireland imposes strict new lockdown with all non-essential shops shut

0
24

Ireland has announced some of Europe’s coronavirus restrictions as the country tried to suppress the bug.

Under new rules announced on Monday night non essential shops will shut and restaurants and pubs are limited to take away service.

People are also being urged not to travel more than three miles from their homes.

The new lockdown rules start on Wednesday at midnight and will last until December 1.

A further 1,031 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed by the National Public Health Emergency Team on Monday, bringing the total to more than 50,000 for the first .

No new deaths linked to the virus were reported.

During the first surge, Ireland imposed one of Europe’s longest lockdowns and eased restrictions at such a cautious pace that pubs that only serve drinks in Dublin had not reopened by the a rise in infections prompted a tightening of curbs.

This schools will stay open and essential services such as construction are allowed to continue, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said as he moved the country to the highest level of restrictions, Level 5, for six weeks from midnight Wednesday.

Hotels may remain open, but only if their rooms are needed by essential workers.

“In the effort to suppress the virus, we’ve already introduced what is probably Europe’s strictest regime,” Martin said in a televised address, two weeks after rejecting what was then seen as a surprise call by health chiefs to move to Level 5, the first ministers went against their advice.

“The government has decided that the evidence of a potentially grave situation arising in the weeks ahead is now too strong.”

While countries struggling with high rates of infection like Belgium, the Netherlands and France have shut bars, restaurants and imposed a nighttime curfew, none have such strict travel restrictions within the country.

Harder hit Northern Ireland last week shut schools for two weeks and restaurants for four, although most retailers remain open.

In Wales, people have been asked to stay at home in a two-week “fire-break” lockdown announced on Monday.

On Sunday, Ireland broke its record for the number of cases recorded in a single day for the fifth in nine days, and has the 12th highest rate among the 31 countries monitored by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

The number of COVID-19 patients has also doubled in the past two weeks but stands at less than half the peak in April.

To cushion the blow, the government will increase the amount it contributes to coronavirus-related jobless payments and wage subsidies.

Last week’s budget, the biggest stimulus package in the history of the state, introduced much larger grants of up to 5,000 euros per week for shuttered or battered businesses.

Data on Monday showed the number of people claiming COVID-19 jobless payments has risen by 20% to 244,153 in the last two weeks.

Government estimates show that 100,000 to 127,000 more could be laid off temporarily under Level 5.

The jobless rate, including those on the emergency payment, stood at 14.7% last month.

The finance ministry forecast that the economy could contract again next year if there is a prolonged period of stringent restrictions.