There is a “strong” and “very real” possibility that Dublin will be moved to level three in the Government’s plans for coping with the Covid-19 pandemic, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said.
This would mean more severe restrictions for the capital, where there is concern about the increased spread of the disease in recent weeks.
Dr Philip Nolan, a member of the National Public Health Emergency Team, has warned that the number cases recorded daily could rise as high as 3,500 per day by the end of next month if the virus continues to spread at current rates.
Mr Donohoe said people living in Dublin who are considering going on holidays elsewhere in the State should reschedule and that those from the county planning to have weddings outside the capital should reconsider this. He said people should avoid travelling to Dublin where possible.
The Government has come in for criticism for not communicating its medium-term Living with Covid-19 strategy clearly since it was published on Tuesday.
Under the plan, the whole State has been set at level two of five, though additional restrictions have been placed on the capital from today such as curbs on private gatherings and pubs not serving food being unable to open from next week as will be the case in other counties.
Level two limits the number of visitors allowed in a home to six people from two or three other households, up to 15 people can meet outdoors from up to three households, outdoor sports training is permitted for up to 15 people (except for professional teams) and up to 100 people can watch sports events outdoors and 50 people indoors.
Level three limits visitors to your home or garden to people from one other household, travel is restricted to your county or region apart from for work, education or essential reasons, attendance at a wedding ceremony or reception is reduced from 50 to 25, no indoor gatherings (including meetings, theatres, cinemas, arts venues) are permitted, only individual indoor sports training is permitted and visits to long-term residential care facilities, including nursing homes, are suspended.
Should not travel
Mr Donohoe told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that until case numbers in Dublin start to reduce the advice remained that people in the capital should not travel outside the city or the county.
He said that at all times the Government would be guided by the advice of the medical experts and the National Public Health Emergency Team would provide further advice to the Government on Thursday after which there was “a very real possibility” that Dublin will move to level three.
He added that all decisions will be taken with the aim of saving lives.
When asked about a case raised by the Labour’s Dublin Fingal TD Duncan Smith about a couple from his constituency who were due to have their wedding outside Dublin shortly, Mr Donohoe said he would urge them to reconsider and not to leave Dublin.
The Minister also said anyone from Dublin considering a staycation elsewhere in the country should reschedule and he hoped that accommodation providers would be flexible about deposits.
He defended the decision by the Ceann Comhairle to halt Dáil proceedings on Tuesday when Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly went for a Covid-19 test. The Dáil was a workplace and was subject to the same guidelines as the public, he said. It had been “entirely understandable” what had happened, he said but admitted it might have been more appropriate to have had a temporary adjournment.
Mr Smith said the Government should have placed Dublin clearly on either level two or level three on Tuesday.