Covid-19: Restrictions on visiting other people’s homes may hit Dublin and Limerick

Coronavirus cases may prompt strict measures in two cities as pubs still set for reopening

A motorist is handed a test kit at a pop-up Covid-19 testing facility in Dublin amid a spike in cases in the city. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

People in Dublin and Limerick are facing a ban on visiting other people’s homes if the spike in Covid-19 cases in both cities does not stabilise by the weekend.

The Government is considering introducing restrictions on people’s movements similar to those introduced in Glasgow, where household meet-ups are seen as the driver of a rise in infections there.

Nicola Sturgeon’s government has responded to a rapid increase of cases in Scotland’s second city by restricting people from visiting other people’s homes or hosting people from other households in their own homes.

At the same time it has allowed pubs and restaurants to remain open and has allowed people to meet outdoors.

READ MORE

A total of 307 new cases were reported on Tuesday, the highest number since mid-May, along with the first death in almost a month. The number of cases since the pandemic started has now passed the 30,000 mark, to 30,080.

Dublin accounted for 182 of the new cases, prompting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn to express concern over the rising number of cases in the capital.

Home outbreaks

Most of the cases identified in Dublin stem from home outbreaks and not from public social settings such as pubs and restaurants.

The National Public Health Emergency Team is meeting on Thursday to discuss the latest data and will then advise the Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19. Dr Glynn has emphasised in recent days the need for numbers to stabilise in Dublin and Limerick.

The restrictions, if introduced, would be less punitive than the recent lockdowns of Co Kildare, Co Offaly and Co Laois.

A senior Government source said there would be a re-emphasis on asking people to take personal responsibility to limit the number of their social contacts and their movements. That could include guidelines to cut down on using public transport, and for some workers to return to working from home.

It came as the Cabinet decided to allow an estimated 3,500 pubs that serve drink reopen on September 21st. After being closed for six months, the so-called “wet” pubs will be allowed operate under similar guidelines as premises that serve food.

A Government spokeswoman said on Tuesday the reopening would apply to all pubs. Were any regional restrictions introduced as a result of rising numbers, they would be wider and would affect other businesses and not pubs solely.

Travel breach

Separately, on Tuesday night, a second member of Fáilte Ireland’s board resigned. Breege O’Donoghue went on holiday to her second home in Marbella, Spain, for a week in July and another week in August despite the Government advising against non-essential travel to that country.

The Government is expected to publish its medium-term plan to deal with the pandemic early next week. This is expected to allow larger numbers of spectators at outdoor sports events such as GAA and rugby.

One Cabinet source said on Tuesday that Covid would be in Ireland for a long time and the Government needed to effect a balancing act between containing the virus and keeping the economy open.

“We have to be very careful about any notion of lockdown in Dublin,” said the source. “It accounts for one-third of the economy so it should be kept open as much as possible.”

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.