‘For businesses I wouldn’t like to see full lockdown – but for people I would’

Locals in Kilkenny where infection levels are low question need for countrywide measures

“It was hard. I wouldn’t like to see another one now,” says Kilkenny pensioner Jim Dwyer, as speculation of a move to Level 5 brings back memories of a difficult lockdown in March.

“I know a lot of people who it didn’t suit. It wouldn’t suit anyone really. If there’s another spike in the winter and then a lockdown, you’d worry about the suicide rate,” he says.

Kilkenny is part of the Health Service Executive region with the country’s lowest Covid-19 incidence rate per 100,000 at 42.1. The recommendation by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to move the whole country to Level 5 – although ultimately rejected by the Government for a move to Level 3 – doesn’t make sense to many locals.

“Places that have universities and students, your Dublins, your Corks, Limerick, Galway, that seems to be where the cases are. You’re not getting that here so should we be shut down? There were only five cases announced for here yesterday [Sunday],” says Dwyer.


Childcare worker Martina Egan cannot fathom why Kilkenny would be considered for such harsh measures. “Maybe if they closed off the counties with the higher cases, that might work,” she says. “Dublin, Galway, Cork, Donegal, they have the highest, so maybe put them to Level 4 or Level 5. But not the whole country again, it’d destroy us.”

“I know it needs to go up a level,” says Egan, “but it will mean closing businesses again. People are only getting back on their feet, they can’t manage that all over again.”

Egan “hated” lockdown earlier in the year and fears it being introduced in the coming weeks. Her sector is still trying to regain stability after a wide-scale shutdown before the summer.

The prospect of shutting down shops under Level 5 – which won’t happen under Level 3 – brought worry for businesses in the city on Monday. Hugh Paul, of clothing store Paul’s on High Street, leans over a clothes rack and sums up the confusion over the levels: “Level 3 was supposed to be there so we could avoid Level 4 , and Level 4 was supposed to be there so we could avoid Level 5.”

He says the shop missed “three months of selling” due to being closed earlier in the year, and has just gotten in its autumn stock. “It would be a disaster if there is another full-scale lockdown.”


However for Margaret Conroy, the prospect of more restrictions brought some comfort. “For businesses I wouldn’t like to see full lockdown – but for people I would,” she says .

“I want lockdown anyway. I don’t think people are adhering to the rules as well as they were. It’s people in their 20s, their 30s, their 40s,” she says .

“I just don’t want to get this [coronavirus]. I have an underlying condition and I don’t want to die alone in a hospital. I lost two friends to this and I don’t want it.”

She feels sympathy for friends who run businesses but has found the latest rise in Covid-19 cases nationally worrying.

“My children are in Australia and I probably won’t feel well until the day I can see them again and be able to hold my grandchildren in my arms.”

Maurice Bowe is in favour of a “sharp shock, a lockdown lasting two to three weeks to get the virus under control”.

“If it isn’t a full lockdown then what’s the point in it? There’s no half measure on it, it’s all hog or no dinner. Just until it’s back to where it was in July and then we can re-evaluate where the spike was coming from.”

He believes the rise in cases has come from the schools and colleges reopening, and reckons younger age groups are partly at fault, but tries to avoid passing judgement. “I think my generation tends to have a tighter circle of friends. Like even taking work into account, my and my wife’s circle between us is six to eight people. That wouldn’t have been the case when we were younger.”