TDs and councillors say local Covid restrictions should be considered
Not necessary to close down entire counties, say politicians
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has given consideration to more localised restrictions but concluded that many people would not be aware of the borders of local electoral areas, especially in Dublin. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins
The Government should consider localised restrictions rather than using the blunt instrument of elevating entire counties to higher levels, TDs and councillors have said.
Representatives from counties at risk of being moved to Level 3 on the official restriction plan say local data breakdowns show that spikes in Covid-19 cases are localised to single electoral areas and that any measures should be to be confined to those places where case numbers are highest.
However, the Government is unlikely to accede to their request. The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has given consideration to more localised restrictions but concluded that many people would not be aware of the borders of local electoral areas, especially in Dublin.
Social Democrats co-leader and Kildare North TD Catherine Murphy said the countywide lockdown in August took a toll on the north of the county, which had few cases at the time. She said the same argument held sway now with a big outbreak around Celbridge.
“A full county approach might do more damage than is needed and a quick and more localised response based on medical advice seems possible,” she said, adding that there was very little interaction between both sides of the county.
Avril Cronin, a Fine Gael councillor in west Wicklow, said it was not fair to close down the entire county due to problems in parts of Bray.
“Wicklow is a huge county divided by mountains. We have had six cases in west Wicklow from Kilbride down to Carnew, whereas in Bray west the fortnightly figures are 206 per 100,000 people,” she said
Labour TD for Louth Ged Nash said the concentration of cases in his constituency was in the north of the county. He said there was an argument for more localised restrictions to ensure areas were not cut off from their hinterland across county borders. He cited Drogheda, which has a strong connection with east Meath, as an example.
Marc Ó Cathasaigh, a Green Party TD for Waterford, said such an approach would make sense in his country. He said Waterford city and Tramore had high numbers compared to rural parts of the county.
“The town of Ballymacabry has practically zero Covid and a person in the Nire Valley is far more likely to call to Clonmel [in Tipperary] for their shopping than to Waterford City. Likewise, levels in Dungarvan and its hinterland have remained very low.”