Ireland had longest lockdown for pubs and restaurants in Europe – report

Spring Covid-19 lockdown lasting 120 days by far the longest of any country in Europe

Ireland's first lockdown was by far the longest in Europe for bars, restaurants, cinemas and non-essential shops, according to a new report.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) health system policy tracker states that public spaces defined as parks, restaurants, bars, cinemas, non-essential shops and services were closed in Ireland for 120 days from March 12th.

The country with the next highest number of days where public spaces were shut was Finland (74 days) followed by Slovakia (66 days) and Bulgaria and Estonia (both 65 days).

The Health at a Glance: Europe 2020 report covers 36 countries in Europe including the EU 27, the UK, Turkey, Switzerland and Norway.


Ireland was also one of only six countries of the 36 to close both primary and secondary schools until the summer holidays, the others being Bulgaria, Finland, Italy, Spain and Latvia.

The report noted that before the pandemic Ireland had the lowest number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds in Europe with 5 per 100,000 against an EU 14 (EU members prior to 2004) average of 12.9 per 100,000.

However, it also notes that Ireland has added 399 new ICU beds (an extra 8.1 per 100,000) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

ICU beds

At the height of the pandemic in April, two-thirds of ICU beds in the Republic were occupied by patients with Covid-19. Only Italy, where images of overrun ICU wards were commonplace, had higher rates of occupation at 78 per cent.

Ireland had the second highest level of expenditure on health spending as a result of Covid-19 at €274 per capita followed by Germany (€302) and the United Kingdom (€446) but the Irish figures were only up to May 12th.

Deaths in Ireland among the over-65s were the third highest in Europe relative to population. The rate to early October in Ireland was 2,359 deaths per million. Only Belgium and England/Wales had higher rates of deaths.

Death rates in Ireland at 390 per million are similar to the EU/UK average of 380 per million. The countries with the highest rates of fatalities were Belgium (1,015), Spain (764) and the UK (699 per million).

The report notes that in almost every country in Europe at least 90 per cent of Covid-19 deaths were amongst people aged 60 and over.

In many countries, about half or more of Covid-19 deaths were amongst residents in long-term care (LTC) facilities.

To date Europe has had two major waves of infections with 10 million cases and 265,000 deaths. Rates of death for Covid-19 patients are estimated at between 0.17 and 1.7 per cent of those infected.

The report noted that a few European countries, like Norway and Finland, have been better able to contain the spread of the virus, partly because of geographic factors (lower population density) but also because of greater preparedness and rapid and effective test, track and trace strategy, and stronger trust and compliance of citizens with government rules and recommendations.

Outside Europe, the four OECD countries in the Asia/Pacific region (Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand) have successfully controlled the Covid-19 outbreak by introducing effective testing, tracing and isolation policies as well as trust and compliance with social distancing and other key guidelines.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times