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Taoiseach Announces Restrictions For Midlands Counties

It comes after a surge in cases in Laois, Offaly and Kildare.

People in Laois, Offaly and Kildare must stay within their own counties for two weeks from midnight tonight. 

The Taoiseach says pubs and restaurants in the three counties will have to close, as part of the local lockdown. 

He says he understands the impatience people are feeling and the desire to get back to normal life. 

He says the restrictions are needed because the virus is a 'deep and urgent threat':

Restaurant and pubs should close expect for a take away service. 

Playgrounds can remain open. 

Those who can work from home should do so. 

People should restrict visitors to their home, no more than six people.

Contact sports should cease for the next two weeks. 

People will be able to travel through the counties on their way to other areas. 

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says the special restrictions are necessary because of the rapid spread of the virus:

The Chief Executive of the HSE has said our success so far in containing the spread of the virus is as a result of the solidarity of all our people.

Paul Reid appealed to anyone with symptoms or a close contact of a case to come forward for a test.

He said additional resources will be made available to the public health teams in the region- particularly in their contact tracing work. 

The National Ambulance Service is also to provide additional pop up testing facilities in the three counties from tomorrow.

'Sobering' - that's how this evening's announcement has been described by a GP based in Kildare.

However , Dr Brendan O’Shea,  says lessons have been learned from the earlier phases of lockdown:

Over the past 14 days 226 cases of COVID-19 have arisen in Kildare, Laois and Offaly. These represent almost half of all cases detected in Ireland during that time (as of midnight Thursday 6 August).

These measures are being put in place to protect the vulnerable in these counties as well as to stop the spread of the virus.

They are in place for 2 weeks from midnight tonight (Saturday 8 August) until Saturday 21 August. The situation will then be reviewed.

Travel and transport

You can only travel within your county, other than for the following reasons:

  • to travel to and from work where that work cannot be done from home
  • to attend medical appointments, collect medicines and other health products
  • for vital family reasons, like providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, but excluding social family visits
  • for farming purposes, food production or care of animals

You should not travel into any of these counties, other than for the reasons above, and unless travel through these counties is for the purpose of reaching a destination outside of these specified counties. In this regard, people should not stop in the specified counties, unless for essential purposes.

Public and private transport

You should not use public transport unless it is absolutely necessary to do so, and where possible you should not share private vehicles with others from outside your household.

Public health measures

You should continue do the things that will protect yourself and others. This is the best way of interrupting the transmission of the virus:

  • frequent hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
  • keep a safe distance of 2 metres from other people, especially those not among your close contacts
  • minimise your number of close contacts as much as possible and keep a record of your daily contacts in order to facilitate rapid contact tracing if you are diagnosed with COVID-19
  • wear a face covering when using public transport, in retail settings or any other indoor setting where physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • know and self-monitor for the symptoms of COVID-19. If you have symptoms, you should self-isolate immediately and contact your GP without delay
  • download the COVID Tracker app
  • stay informed through trusted information sources and follow official public health advice

Education and childcare

The following services remain open with appropriate protective measures in place:

  • education and childcare
  • outdoor playgrounds, play areas and parks

Economic activity and work

Anyone in these counties who can work from home should work from home.

Social

Cafes and restaurants

All cafes and restaurants, including bars operating as restaurants, should only offer takeaway or delivery, or outdoor dining (maximum 15 people with strict physical distancing).

Hotels can remain open but must limit occupancy to essential non-social and non-tourist reasons. Existing guests can remain for the duration of their booking.

Indoor gatherings

All indoor gatherings should be restricted to a maximum of 6 people from no more than 3 households in total, while maintaining physical distancing.

Outdoor gatherings

Outdoor gatherings should be limited to a maximum of 15 people, while maintaining physical distancing.

Cultural and religious

All cinemas, theatres, casinos, betting shops, bingo halls, gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools, exercise and dance studios are required to close.

Attendance at a funeral service and burial or cremation ceremony should be limited to 25 outdoors. Indoor events connected to the funeral are limited to a maximum of 6 people.

Places of worship remain open for private prayer, while services are to be held online.

Sport

No sporting events or matches should take place, with the following exemptions:

  • non-contact training outdoors in a maximum group of 15 people may continue
  • professional and elite sports and horse-racing may continue behind closed doors
  • inter-county training (max 15 people) and fixtures may continue behind closed doors

Residential and healthcare facilities

Visiting in long-term residential care facilities, acute settings and prisons will generally be suspended in the first instance with the exception of the most critical and compassionate circumstances (for example end of life).

The impact of COVID-19 on society in general and especially those living in nursing homes has been considerable. We recognise that the proposed social distancing measures and restrictions on visiting, while introduced for the overarching public health good and for the protection of people, including those most at-risk, have an unprecedented impact on people’s daily lives, and recommending them is on foot of considered reflection of the potential risk at this time.

The serial testing programme in nursing homes will recommence next week on a fortnightly basis, with a focus on ensuring that facilities in the specified counties are tested early in the programme.

Advice for those over 70 years or medically vulnerable

The over 70s or medically vulnerable are advised to exercise individual judgement, and to stay at home as much as possible, and limit interactions to a very small network for short periods of time, while remaining physically distanced.

They are also advised the following:

  • if exercising outside, keep 2 metres apart from others and wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • avoid public transport
  • you should shop during designated hours and wear a face covering. Family, friends and neighbours may be able to provide assistance with shopping once they adhere to physical distancing guidelines. Alternatively, online services may be considered
  • shops should ensure that there are designated hours for over 70s and medically vulnerable
  • if these options are not available to you, you can contact your local authority who are working with local organisations to make sure that people have access to food, essential household supplies and medicines

 

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