People who are aged over 70 or who are medically vulnerable have now been given a designated time to exercise in Dublin parks in a bid to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.
Since March 27th, older people and those who are particularly at risk of contracting a severe form of the illness were requested by the Government and health officials to cocoon and refrain from leaving their homes to protect themselves from coronavirus, which causes Covid-19.
However, since Tuesday, that advice has been eased slightly and now allows those individuals to leave their homes for one “short walk” or exercise each day.
In order to ensure physical distancing for these people, the four Dublin local authorities have designated a two-hour period in local parks for people who are cocooning.
The designation will come into effect from Wednesday, May 6th, and will apply to all parks across Dublin city and county, between 1.30 pm and 3.30 pm.
Other park users are asked to consider using parks at other times so that those cocooning can have as much space and confidence in physical distancing as possible.
Cllr Shay Brennan, Cathaoirleach of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown county council, said the Covid-19 pandemic brings "many challenge" and it often must be faced by "thinking differently".
“I fully support this innovative plan to allow cocooners much needed dedicated space and time in the outdoors – allowing them the peace of mind that they can get their long-awaited fresh air and exercise in as safe an environment as possible,” Cllr Brennan said.
Philomena Poole, chief executive of the council, added: "We are asking all other citizens to please take on board the request to leave this two-hour period for those who have been cocooning and to use the park at other times. It is extremely important that they can enjoy our parks and exercise in safety."
Health officials have issued new guidance to cocooners who do opt to go for a walk outside of their own garden or home.
While outside, they are advised to stay two metres away from others, avoid physical contact with other people and they should also not touch any surfaces.
Cocooners are also advised to wash their hands when they get home and to refrain from going to the shops.
Speaking at the Government's Covid-19 briefing on Tuesday morning, assistant secretary general at the Department of Taoiseach Liz Canavan said "the key message is to avoid all contact with other people, maintain a no touch policy and wash your hands on returning home."