Coronavirus: Indoor dining, weddings, funerals, travel to be hit as Dublin set for Level 3
Restaurants Association 'shocked' indoor dining to close in Dublin for weeks
Members of the public enjoying the good weather in Merrion Square in Dublin on Thursday. Under additional restrictions for dining, restaurants and pubs which serve food will only be permitted to open if they have outdoor facilities, or for takeaway services. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
The Government will on Friday impose new restrictions on social and economic life in Dublin in response to the rise in Covid-19 cases in the capital in recent weeks.
The Cabinet is expected to approve a proposal to move Dublin to Level 3 of the Covid restrictions, with Ministers due to sign regulations on Friday evening to impose the restrictions across a range of activities from Friday midnight.
Under additional restrictions for dining, restaurants and pubs which serve food will only be permitted to open if they have outdoor facilities, or for takeaway services. Authorities have already decided that pubs that do not serve food, so-called 'wet pubs' will stay shut in Dublin when they re-open around the country on on September 21st.
The Government’s public health experts made the latest recommendations on Thursday night, amid growing alarm at the rise in cases in the last seven to 10 days.
Restaurants Association of Ireland CEO Adrian Cummins said it was “shocked” indoor dining was to close in Dublin for the next few weeks.
“Currently, controlled and regulated environments like restaurants are not the problem – households are,” he tweeted.
In other measures, travel into and from Dublin will only be permitted for work or education, and people will be told to work from home unless absolutely necessary.
The number of guests allowed at weddings will be cut from 50 to 25, though weddings organised for this weekend will be allowed to continue as planned, with the new restriction only coming into place on Monday.
Government sources also indicated that third level colleges in Dublin may be required to move as much tuition as possible online.
At present, most third level institutions are preparing for a combination of online and in-person tuition, with students typically spending at least one day on campus each week. However, sources indicated that only essential campus-based activities may now take place in Dublin.
The Cabinet committee on Covid-19 will meet on Friday morning to consider the recommendations from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), but sources say that the recommendations are certain to be adopted. They will then be approved by the Cabinet, with an announcement likely to be made by the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, and Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, later in the day.
NPHET held a lengthy meeting on Thursday before forwarding its recommendations to the Government. They were then considered by another committee of senior officials chaired by the State’s top civil servant, Martin Fraser, and also attended by the heads of the departments of health and justice, as well as the chief executive of the HSE Paul Reid and the acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn.
The new rules will mark a sufficient tightening of the restrictions in Dublin as the capital moves to Level 3, though the rest of the country will remain at Level 2.
In Dublin, social and family gatherings outside the home are likely to be prohibited, while visitors to the home should be restricted to people from one other household. Sports matches will also be discontinued, though there is an exemption for elite sport, which includes club championship games.
No organised indoor events such as conferences and events in theatres, cinemas or arts venues will be allowed to take place. Outdoor events will be confined to 15 people. Gyms will be permitted to open for individual training only. Churches and places of worship will remain open for private prayer only, though funerals will have an exemption. Even here, however, only 25 mourners will be permitted.
On Thursday night, health officials reported that one more person had died of Covid-19 and a further 240 cases had been reported.
Dr Glynn said half of the cases (119) were in Dublin, while there was also a growing age profile among those catching the virus.
The latest figures mean the death toll in the State has risen to 1,789. Confirmed cases have now breached the 32,000 mark, climbing to 32,023.