and STEPHEN MAGUIRE People across the Border from Co Donegal have been urged to use their "civil an moral conscience" if considering visiting the county, the garda in charge of the emergency planning for the local force has said.
On Thursday the Government announced that Donegal was moving to Level 3 of the Covid-19 scale .
Insp David Durkin said gardaí could not stop people from coming into the county from neighbouring Derry and Tyrone. 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.”
One of the most challenging aspects of the lockdown in Donegal will be its daily interactions, with many thousands of people working and going to school between both areas.
The county’s hospitality sector has expressed its disappointment over the announcement, with representatives saying there is “total panic” within the sector.
However, unlike in Dublin, wet pubs and bars in Donegal will be permitted to remain open but only to serve a maximum of 15 customers, all of whom must be outside.
Padraig Cribben, chief executive of the Vintners' Federation of Ireland, said the decision "effectively closes all pubs in the county".
He said allowing pubs to remain open for outdoor trading limited to 15 people was only a Government fig leaf – the reality was that pubs in the county would have to close for a minimum of three weeks.
“Our members only reopened last Monday after six months closed, so this news will deal a severe blow to confidence in the pub sector. I know publicans will be asking if this is the future for the trade, temporary openings followed by closures as we fight the virus.”
Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, president of the Irish Hotels Federation, said 5,500 jobs in Donegal were now at "imminent risk" unless "sector-specific" supports were put in place.
“The tourism and hospitality industry has become the economic frontline of the Covid crisis, and it is disappointing that such short notice has again been given ,” said Ms Fitzgerald Kane.
Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, said the sector "wants to play its part" in the pandemic, but the latest restrictions were "devastating for every business in the county".
Meanwhile, at least two First Holy Communion Masses were fast-tracked to Thursday evening due to Covid-19 in the county.
In a post on social media St Mary's parish Stranorlar announced that due to the "worrying rise of Covid cases in Donegal" the Masses were held at 5pm and 7pm on Thursday.
The Parish of Urney and Castlefin also held First Holy Communion for children from St Mary's national school in Castlefin on Thursday.