Another lockdown would be ‘absolutely crushing’ for Limerick, locals say

Businesses fear further restrictions amid significant rise in Covid-19 cases in the county

Limerick city has been ‘extremely busy’ in recent days with the good weather. Photograph: David Raleigh

Limerick city has been ‘extremely busy’ in recent days with the good weather. Photograph: David Raleigh

 

Street cleaner Turlough McNamara is able to see how Limerick, now facing rapidly worsening Covid-19 figures, has changed over the last few days better than most.

“I don’t think Limerick could take another lockdown, businesses would close up. Peoples lives have been shattered and nobody wants another lockdown,” says McNamara.

However, he warns: “I’m around the streets of Limerick every day of the week, and the last few days have been extremely, extremely busy. The sun brings people out, and we have a long weekend to come”.

Turlough McNamara. Photograph: David Raleigh
Turlough McNamara. Photograph: David Raleigh

In the past 48 hours, Limerick has had 178 new Covid-19 cases, with the city and county representing 970 out of 1,100 cases identified across the midwest since May 16th.

The Flannerys, like all publicans, have been hit hard and were forced to shutter their five pubs. Another lockdown would be “absolutely crushing”, says Paul Flannery, who runs the family’s Shannon Street pub.

“The last two or three days have been worrying. I’m hearing about a spread in schools, so it seems to be the younger generation – without blaming them – who are spreading the virus, for whatever reason,” he tells The Irish Times.

Indoor gatherings are happening more and more, he says: “That’s also worrying because we are not out of this yet. Everybody is fed up but people need to be responsible for their own actions.”

Paul Flannery, proprietor of Flannery’s pub, Shannon Street, Limerick. Photograph: David Raleigh
Paul Flannery, proprietor of Flannery’s pub, Shannon Street, Limerick. Photograph: David Raleigh

Tiernan O’Neill, principal of Corpus Christi Primary School, says Moyross has seen a “significant” rise in cases due to the “overcrowding” families face living in council houses.

However, O’Neill praises parents who have stayed the course with public health guidelines, which has ensured that the school has remained largely unaffected during the pandemic.

“[Covid-19] continues to close schools. Thankfully, we have been remarkably lucky and the community here have been absolutely unbelievable by making sure that a child with symptoms is not sent to school,” he said.

Michal Wilk, owner of the Wildberry Cafe, Catherine Street, Limerick. Photograph: David Raleigh
Michal Wilk, owner of the Wildberry Cafe, Catherine Street, Limerick. Photograph: David Raleigh

Last March a large street party near off-campus accommodation units in Castletroy led to University of Limerick students being sanctioned for breaches of the university’s code of conduct.

Gardaí fined dozens of students for breaches of the Health Act at the time and the university funded extra Garda patrols so now there are “no red-flag issues” around the university, sources say.

Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell says there is no need for a lockdown since there is only one person in ICU and a handful of others are in stable condition from Covid-19 at University Hospital Limerick.

Shane Gleeson, owner of Spar newsagents, Catherine Street, Limerick. Photograph: David Raleigh
Shane Gleeson, owner of Spar newsagents, Catherine Street, Limerick. Photograph: David Raleigh

Michal Wilk, owner of the Wildberry Cafe on Roches Street, says, despite the rise in Covid cases, business remains brisk: “The last four weeks, business has gone up very fast. Everything is going back to normal.”

Mixed messages regarding lockdowns, while the reopening of indoor restaurant and pub service is set to go ahead on July 5th, have not helped, he says: “That is strange, and I still won’t believe [indoor service will return] until it happens.”

House parties have increased, says Shane Gleeson, proprietor of Spar newsagent on Catherine Street: “Obviously they shouldn’t be doing it, but it’s very hard to blame them, but it’s not all young people either.”