DUBLIN: Although the government and NPHET have different stance, there are signs that the country is heading towards a lockdown which is similar to level 5 restrictions. An announcement in this regard is expected after today’s cabinet meeting. The government believes the situation could get out of hand if restrictions are not tightened, as it is clear that the new virus, which has been mutated in Britain, is more dangerous than the first. Some groups of health professionals have also warned the government about this. Therefore, the government will take a firm stand against the third wave of COVID-19.
As part of this provision, pubs, restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers are all set to close on Christmas night. The hospitality sector has been asked to close on the eve of Christmas Eve. The worst hit hospitality sector may not reopen until next year.
Services such as hairdressers, beautician and make-up artists will also be shut down as part of the new lockdown. Cabinet will make a decision today on whether gyms will remain open. The number of people inside the shops may be limited and non-essential retailers may be allowed to open. The government has also reportedly launched a new financial assistance scheme to help businesses in the latest lockdown.
“The new restrictions are closer to a level five lockdown than the level three plus which had been anticipated,” a source said. The emergency meeting did not make a final decision regarding the inter-county travel. But the travel ban to the UK has been extended to 31. The full announcement of the restrictions is expected to be made by the Taoiseach after today’s cabinet meeting.
Health experts warn that there would be a high risk if strict restrictions are not announced
A group of health experts had warned that there would be 4,500 COVID-19 cases per day in Ireland by the first week of January if a tough stance was not taken. So they also demanded that the government declare a national lockdown in the country from Stephen’s Day. They also point out that a health emergency is needed to deal with the mutated corona virus.
The Independent Scientific Advocacy Group – which includes DCU Professor Anthony Staines, TCD Associate Professor Dr Tomas Ryan, and NUI Galway’s Dr. Nessa Cronin, warns that the new mutant virus may have already reached Ireland. The group also called on the Irish government to commit to a national lockdown from December 26 to deal with it.
“We cannot afford to wait. It will be too late by January 6 or by December 30. Based on possible scenarios of between 8-12 per cent growth in case numbers (assuming people have not already voluntarily changed behaviours) we expect 900-1300 daily cases by December 28, and 2100-4500 by January 6 if no action is taken. We should assume that the new virus lineage is here already but in any event, we are heading for 1500 cases per day by early January.” The group warns that this could lead to the collapse of Ireland’s healthcare system.
The growth rate of the virus is really worrying, says Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group. The Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan said that NPHET was trying to evaluate the potential role of this new variant found in the south of England.