Rising coronavirus infections in Dublin have resulted in additional restrictions including travel outside the county being discouraged by the Government.
This leaves the State’s most populous county, with about 1.4 million people or one third of the population, between the new Level 2 and Level 3 Covid-19 alert levels.
Can I travel outside Dublin?
You can but you are being asked not to. The official stated advice from the Departments of the Taoiseach and Health on the Government website to those living in Dublin is that they should be “encouraged to limit travel outside the region and only meet one other household when outside the county”.
So I can travel if I want?
Yes. Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said on Tuesday that Dublin residents “absolutely can” travel outside the county. Taoiseach Micheál Martin later clarified that the State’s National Public Health Emergency Team had advised people not to travel outside Dublin but that there was no regulation attached to it. “I am encouraging people not to travel, if at all possible,” he said.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar went further on Tuesday night, saying the Government was “strongly discouraging people from travelling outside of Dublin city or county unless it’s necessary.” He cited reasons of work or to care for somebody but not a weekend away.
But what about Dubliners who have events to go to in another county? They are, unfortunately, being asked to reschedule. On Wednesday, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said people living in Dublin who were considering going on holidays or a weekend away elsewhere in the State should reschedule and that people from Dublin going to weddings outside the county should reconsider their plans. He also said people should avoid travelling to Dublin where possible.
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach told the Dáil people should not travel outside Dublin if possible, while Dr Ronan Glynn, the State’s acting chief medical officer, said: “We’re asking people, if possible, to avoid travel outside of Dublin for the coming couple of weeks.”
Why are the restrictions more severe for Dublin?
The infection rates are far higher in Dublin than elsewhere in the country, and rising. The 14-day incidence rate of Covid-19 in Dublin for cases per 100,000 people is almost twice the national average and in some parts of Dublin, almost three times the national rate.
Dr Glynn warned in a letter to Donnelly last week that the rising infections in Dublin and the size of its population mean it is a “substantial disease reservoir” which, if left unchecked, could transmit widely in Dublin and elsewhere.
What about people who commute into Dublin?
The rest of the country is on Level Two alert, which means they are being asked to work from home, if possible. However, they can travel into Dublin to attend essential on-site meetings, inductions and training. The last census showed that 130,000 people commuted to Dublin for work in 2016. This number is likely to have increased since then, prior to the pandemic, but fallen during it.
What about travel in or out of Dublin if you are attending a school outside your county?
Education is regarded as a reason for essential travel so you can cross the county line. Dr Glynn noted in his letter to Donnelly last week that with universities and colleges returning in the coming weeks, there would be significant additional movement of people into, out of and across the county, so the Government on Tuesday said “higher and third-level institutions should consider enhanced protective measures”. No one is quite clear what this means yet.
What if I want to travel into or out of Dublin for shopping?
If it is not essential shopping, you are advised not to.
International travel is being eased, so could I travel out of the country from Dublin?
Yes. The Government is updating the “green list” of countries, adding Germany and other countries with lower virus rates so a Dubliner would, under the latest Government advice, be permitted to fly to Berlin without having to restrict their movements on their return.
Could the travel restrictions get worse for Dubliners?
Yes, if the infection rates continue to rise. If Dublin moves to Level 3, residents will be told to “stay in your county apart from work, education and other essential purposes, if appropriate”.