Ireland’s five-level Covid-19 plan attracts international praise

Irish Living with Covid-19 plan: ‘Transparent, predictable and an obvious inspiration for Denmark’

‘How nice would it be to make a super clear plan for the third wave,’ said the comedian presenter Arjen Lubach, in television show that mixed jokes, news commentary and criticism of Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte (above). Photograph: Francisco Seco / Pool / AFP via Getty Images

‘How nice would it be to make a super clear plan for the third wave,’ said the comedian presenter Arjen Lubach, in television show that mixed jokes, news commentary and criticism of Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte (above). Photograph: Francisco Seco / Pool / AFP via Getty Images

 

Just as the Irish Government’s plan for managing Covid-19 has come under pressure at home, it has attracted international interest and praise.

The five phases of the Plan for Living with Covid-19 were featured on the Dutch equivalent of Saturday Night Live over the weekend and discussed as a system the Netherlands could emulate.

“How nice would it be to make a super clear plan for the third wave with which . . . it is planned in advance the local rules that will take place at which level of infections,” said the comedian presenter Arjen Lubach, in a television show that mixed jokes, news commentary and criticism of Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte.

“In Ireland they use this,” Mr Lubach said, as the Irish Government’s colour-coded chart of the five levels and their restrictions was displayed to Dutch television viewers.

“The only disadvantage of such a schedule is that someone in authority still has to announce: ‘We are now going to Level 3’ . . . So what we have to do we just link it directly to the number of new infections per week,” Mr Lubach said.

“It would be useful for us stubborn Dutch . . . if we see that measures will arrive in advance. Then we are not surprised by a press conference,” he added. “They are not new rules, but just existing rules that come into effect.”

The Irish system was also the subject of a long article by Danish broadsheet newspaper Berlingske, which reported on it as a model to learn from as the Copenhagen government came in for criticism for “arbitrariness and a lack of transparency” in its Covid-19 response.

“Transparent, predictable and an obvious inspiration for Denmark, say both health professionals and economic experts,” the newspaper reported on Saturday.

Stricter measures

A string of European countries have announced stricter measures to curb rising Covid-19 infections, but in most cases restrictions are decided ad hoc, without following a plan that has been set out in advance.

The Government’s launch of the Plan for Living with Covid-19 in September led for a call by the prominent virologist Marc Van Ranst for Belgium to adopt a similar system.

“What we need is a system with different stages with different measures,” he wrote. “Ireland is a good example.”

Both in the Netherlands and Denmark, there were appeals to the national governments to adopt an Irish-style system after it was featured in the media.

“In Ireland, a model has been found that has created predictability in corona crisis management,” wrote Martin Geersten, a parliamentarian in the Conservative-liberal Venstre party. “The government should be inspired by this instead of convening press conferences on Friday at 5pm and introducing new restrictions with less than 12 hours’ notice.”