Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

12.14 15 Sep 2020


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The Government has unveiled its medium-term 'Living with COVID' plan - detailing how the country will respond to the coronavirus pandemic over the next six months.

A new system - which comes into effect from midnight - involves a five-level approach which will allow for different types of response in individual counties depending on the prevalence of the virus.

Every county is currently on level two, although extra restrictions are in place for Dublin.

The priority from the Government will be to keep schools open in as many circumstances as possible.

While the approach is currently national, that could change depending on prevalence of the virus in local areas.

Level one will be activated when there is low incidence of the disease with only isolated outbreaks and low community transmission.

Here's how the levels are broken, with schools and creches open across all five levels:

Level one - the mildest level of restrictions. It would allow for 10 visitors from up to three households in people's homes, as well as weddings for up to 100 people. Indoor venues could have 100 patrons or up to 200 in larger venues (increasing to 200 or 500 in outdoor venues). Dedicated guidance would be developed for very large venues such as stadiums and auditoriums. However, nightclubs, discos and casinos would remain closed, and work from home advice would continue. Maximum numbers in bars and restaurants would be linked to capacity of the establishment.

Level two - where every county in the country is at currently. Restrictions are similar to ones that have been in place recently, but larger venues will be able to have crowds of up to 100 patrons when social distancing measures are in place. Spectator sports will resume, while up to 50 people can attend funerals or weddings.

Level three - household visits would be limited to people from one other home. Matches and events wouldn't be allowed take place, but swimming pools and gyms could remain open for 'individual training only'. Religious services can only take place online, and funerals would be limited to 25 people. Museums, galleries and other cultural sites would close, and only organised outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people could take place. People would be asked to stay in their county. Pubs and restaurants could remain open with additional restrictions for indoor dining. Everyone would be asked to work from home "unless absolutely necessary to attend in person".

Level four - no household visitors would be allowed, and only six people would be allowed attend weddings and 25 for funerals. Gyms and swimming pools would close, and sports training could only take place in pods of up to 15 outdoors. Restaurants and pubs would be limited to take away food and outdoor seating of 15 people. Hotels would be closed for all but existing guests. Non-essential retail and services (including barbers and hairdressers) would close.

Level five - the highest level of severity, similar to the national lockdown that was introduced earlier this year. Sports training would be individual only, while funerals would be limited to 10 mourners. No outdoor seating would be allowed in pubs or restaurants, with take away or delivery only allowed. People would be told to stay at home and exercise with 5km of their home. No organised outdoor gatherings would be allowed.

Full details are available on the Government's website.

Current restrictions

While the country is currently on level two, there will be additional restrictions for Dublin for now due to a surge in COVID-19 cases - including greater limits on home visits and the continued closure of 'wet pubs'.

People in the capital are being asked to limit household visits to people from one other household.

Up to 200 spectators will be able to attend sporting events again across the country, while people will continue to be able to attend theatres, museums and cinemas in controlled numbers.

Pubs will be allowed reopen from Monday in every county other than Dublin.

NPHET will remain the key health body, but a new group - chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of Taoiseach - will coordinate the Government's response to the public health recommendations.

Ireland will also adopt the traffic light system for international travel being drafted by the European Commission

Announcing the plan, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said we have to live with the "reality" of the virus until a vaccine is available - but that we can go much further in reopening the country before that.

He said the plan is "broad and comprehensive", and offers clarity to what will happen in particular scenarios.


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