Donegal Covid-19 restrictions Q&A: What do they mean?

Government moved swiftly on Thursday to elevate Co Donegal to Level 3

The Government moved  Co Donegal to Level 3 of its Living with Covid-19 Strategy.  Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

The Government moved Co Donegal to Level 3 of its Living with Covid-19 Strategy. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters


The Government moved swiftly on Thursday to elevate Co Donegal to Level 3 of its Living with Covid-19 Strategy.

The move came after a substantial increase in coronavirus cases in the county. The restrictions in Donegal differ slightly from those already in place in Dublin.

We take a look at what the new measures entail for Co Donegal:

Q. When do the new restrictions for Co Donegal come into place?
The new restrictions come into effect for the county from midnight on Friday.

Q. How long are these restrictions in place for the county?
The restrictions will apply for three weeks, until Friday, October 16th.

Q. Can I travel into or out of Co Donegal?
People should not leave or enter the county unless for work, education or other essential purposes.

Under Level 3, the advice is to “work from home unless absolutely necessary to attend in person”.

Q. Will there be checkpoints along the border?
Insp David Durkin said on Thursday gardaí could not stop people from coming into the county from neighbouring Derry and Tyrone and that he did not see a situation whereby gardaí would set up checkpoints along the border, such as happened during the start of the national lockdown in March.

“We will be saying to people not to travel unless it is absolutely necessary and you have to. We would also be appealing to people across the Border to use their moral and civic conscience if considering travelling to Donegal, and again not to travel unless absolutely necessary,” he said.

Q. Are social or family gatherings allowed?
You are allowed a maximum of six visitors from one other household in your home or garden. No social or family gatherings should take place.

Q. Will pubs and restaurants have to close?
Unlike in Dublin, wet pubs can remain open but only for outdoor drinks for up to 15 people. Pubs which serve food, and restaurants, will only be permitted to open if they have outdoor dining facilities (for up to 15 people), or for takeaway services.

Nightclubs, discos and casinos will remain closed.

Q. What about weddings?
Up to 25 people can attend a wedding ceremony and reception. Weddings organised for this weekend can go ahead as planned (up to a limit of 50 guests) with the new restriction coming into effect from Monday.

Donegal residents may attend weddings outside of the county and those outside of Donegal may travel to weddings in Donegal this weekend only.

The Government has said that from Monday couples resident in Donegal with existing plans outside the county can travel to get married at another location.

Q. What happens to mass and funerals?
Religious services move online while places of worship remain open for private prayer. Up to 25 mourners can attend funerals. Funerals organised for this weekend (with a maximum of 50 mourners) can go ahead as planned.

Q. Can organised gatherings such as conferences or events in theatres/cinemas take place?
No organised indoor gatherings should take place. However, organised outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people can take place.

Museums, galleries and other cultural attractions will all close while libraries will be available for e-services and call and collect.

Q. What about sport?
Outdoor non contact training is allowed only in pods of up to 15 people with an exemption for professional/elite/inter-county sports/senior club championship.

In terms of indoor training, only individual training can take place. No exercise or dance classes can happen indoors.

No matches or events are allowed to take place. There is an exemption for matches/events for professional/elite/inter-county/club championship/horse racing which can take place behind closed doors.

Q. Will gyms and leisure centres have to close?
Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools can remain open provided they have the necessary protective measures and for individual training only.

Q. What about hotels and similar accommodation?
They can remain open but services are to be limited to residents.

Q. Will schools and creches remain open?
Schools and creches will remain open with protective measures in place. Further, higher and adult education are to “escalate all appropriate protective measures and limit congregation as far as possible”.

Q. Do over 70s or medically vulnerable people have to cocoon?
Those aged 70 years and over and the medically vulnerable have been advised to “exercise personal judgement”.

It is recommended that they stay at home as much as possible, limit engagement to a very small network for short periods of time, while remaining physically distanced.

Q. Are visits to nursing homes still allowed?
Visits to long-term residential care facilities are suspended aside from “critical and compassionate circumstances”.

Q. What about retail and hairdressers/barbers – can they remain open?
Face coverings must continue to be worn when entering retail outlets, shopping centres etc. They along with hairdressers, barbers and beauticians can remain open as long as the necessary protective measures are in place.

Q. What is Donegal’s incidence rate right now?
The number of cases per 100,000 over the past fortnight in the county increased to 148.2, the highest in the country. It is now higher than Dublin’s rate of about 145. The 14-day rate in Lifford and Stranorlar area is at 336 per 100,000 people.

Dr Glynn said on Thursday Donegal now had twice the levels of infection of every other county besides Dublin over the past seven days.

Q. Are other counties likely to be moved from Level 2 to Level 3?
Taoiseach Micheál Martin warned on Thursday of similar measures in other counties and cities where the incidence rate was rising.

“To be honest we could have similar announcements for other areas in the coming week, if the numbers keep rising,” Mr Martin said.

Dr Ronan Glynn, acting chief medical officer, has urged people in Louth, Wicklow, Kildare, Waterford, Cork and Galway to pay particular attention to public health advice.

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