The government has agreed to move all counties to a Level 3 COVID-19 restriction, rejecting calls from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to move the entire country into a maximum restriction of Level 5. The Level 3 restrictions will come into place nationwide from midnight on Tuesday night and will be in effect for a period of 3 weeks until October 27th.

Despite NPHET’s calls to move the country into a Level 5 restriction, which they claim is the “only opportunity” to get the COVID-19 pandemic “back under control”, the Government today rejected their recommendations and will instead enter Ireland into a Level 3 lockdown.

Cabinet met this evening to discuss the nationwide strengthening of restrictions, following a meeting between coalition leaders Taoiseach Mícheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan with Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan earlier today.

On Sunday night, a leak from a source close to NPHET spread rumours of the Republic entering a Level 5 lockdown imminently. Reports of the impending dramatic strengthening of restrictions were met with fierce political resistance and “shock” from Government, with one TD slamming NPHET’s “extreme” measures, calling for the group to take responsibility for any “damage” another severe lockdown could cause to the Irish economy and society.

After growing concerns for the rapidly rising number of cases in the capital, Dublin was the first county to move to a Level 3 restriction, followed by Donegal two weeks later, after both counties saw worryingly large increases in the rate of infection per 100,000. The rest of the country has remained at a Level 2 restriction until today.

Under Level 3 restrictions, a maximum of 6 people from any 1 other household may visit your home; no social or family gatherings are permitted in any other setting. No indoor gatherings should take place; however, outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people in controlled environments are permitted.

Restaurants, bars, and cafes may remain open, albeit with additional dining restrictions in place. All museums, galleries and cultural attractions will close.

The public is asked to stay within their own county apart from work, education, and other essential purposes. The use of public transport is advised against unless for essential purposes; buses, trains, and trams will operate at 50% capacity.

Outdoor sports training is currently permitted in pods of up to 15, however no matches or sporting events should take place. Earlier today, the GAA suspended all club activity with immediate effect.

Under Level 3, further, higher, and adult education institutes are asked to “limit congregation as much as possible”. However, under additional restrictions implemented on September 25th, all third-level colleges across the country were asked to transition to fully online learning for at least two weeks. 

UCD is currently operating at a Level 4 restriction in the government’s framework for COVID-19 prevention in Higher Education, despite the Level 3 restriction in place in Dublin. These measures are due to last whilst Dublin is operating under Level 3 restrictions.

Nessa Collins – Assistant News Editor