A Government minister says the nationwide ban on household visits can be a “gamechanger” in the fight against the coronavirus.
From tonight, all household visits are to be banned – with some exceptions in compassionate grounds and for childcare reasons.
Meanwhile, Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan are moving to Level Four COVID-19 restrictions from midnight.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris he is “very worried” about the numbers adding that, “I think we all should be.”
He said he understands that people around the country are “wrecked, exhausted, stressed and anxious” after the months of restrictions we have already endured but insisted there are three things everyone can do to push back the virus:
- Work from home
- Stop visiting other people’s homes
- Wear masks correctly
He said it is “likely but not inevitable” that other counties will move to Level Four restrictions in the coming days and weeks.
“It would be dishonest to saying anything but it is more likely than not that they will based on the data today,” he said.
“If you look at the figures today, in terms of the cases, we had the highest number of cases ever yesterday recorded. Over 2,000 people on the island of Ireland yesterday had a confirmed case of COVID - so it is likely but it is not inevitable.
“We are about a week into really, kind of, pushing Level Three nationwide,” he said. “We need to try and give it little bit more time.
“That is why the Taoiseach last night and the Tánaiste and others were saying, let’s taken these enhanced Level Three measures and we do think – painful and difficult and annoying as it is – we do think the household visits could potentially be a game changer if we got it right.”
Minister Harris said we are now “desperately trying to stretch Level Three” and insisted that if we double down on his three priorities, he ‘genuinely believes we can get back on top of this.”
“So, work from home, cancel out the home visits – if you want to meet someone, meet them in the park or meet them for a cup of coffee outdoors – and thirdly get the face coverings right,” he said.
“If we do those three things and do them really, really well, I genuinely believe we can make a big difference.”
He said the traffic on the roads suggests there are people back working in the office who should be at home.
“Working from home is something we should be doing at Level Three,” he said.
“When I come in from Greystones on the N11 there are still a lot of cars there and I am wondering how many of us [need to be there]?
“Working from home is tough but how many of us could get back to working from home in an effort to stop having to go further up the scale?
“We are desperately trying to stretch Level three here. To maximise the benefit of Level three. To prevent having to take further measures and if we have to take further measures of course we are going to but we just have to give Level Three that fighting chance.”
The Higher Education Minister said he had two messages for students who are currently missing out on many of the main aspects of college life.
“Firstly, this will not last forever,” he said. “I know it might seem like it does. It seems like we are stuck in some sort of time warp where every day we are talking about COVID-19. But this too will past.
“I do want Students to know that and particularly first-year students who may be starting out on a three or four-year programme – this is not going to be your college experience.
“The second thing, is I know you can’t live under a rock. So, I fully endorse the USI campaign which is saying when you do socialise do three things – keep it safe, keep it small and keep your distance.
“So do meet your friend, do go for that walk, do go for that cup of coffee outdoors but obviously don’t jampack a load of people into a house.”
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