Dublin-based third-level institutions told to consider “enhanced protective measures” as part of a five-level strategy to deal with Covid-19 over the coming months which was released by the government this afternoon.

Taoiseach Mícheál Martin confirmed that all counties bar Dublin are currently on level two. Dublin, it is understood, is somewhere between levels two and three.

Unlike the rest of the country, Dublin will not see the reopening of wet pubs next Monday the 21st; Dubliners are also being advised to take particular care with measures such as hand washing and face coverings, and to allow no more than two households at a social gathering.

Level Two of the ‘Living with COVID’ Strategy allows for the continued reopening of higher and third-level institutions with protective measures in place. This tightens somewhat at level three, with higher-level institutions to “escalate all appropriate protective measures and limit congregation as far as possible.”

Level four would see all further, higher and adult education to move primarily online with appropriate protective measures in place for essential attendance on site.

There is some confusion as to the impact of level five on higher-level institutions; at present, the government website states institutions are to “open with protective measures in place” at this level, despite this being the strictest level.

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinan criticised the plan, calling it “incoherent”, despite the fact it was intended to bring clarity. He expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of information regarding testing and tracing, and the fact that the capital remains “in limbo”. Labour TD Ged Nash also expressed confusion at the plan, posing the question of why Dublin remains in-between levels despite meeting all the criteria for level 3. 

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith was also critical of the plan, calling it a “roadmap of confusion”. She agreed that testing and tracing is urgent if the spread of the virus is to be curtailed. Similarly, some members of the public have expressed confusion and doubt over the plan, with one person questioning how we can rely upon a strategy that was modified on its first day.

USI President Lorna Fitzpatrick commented on the plan’s vagueness, tweeting, “Clarity on what those “enhanced protective measures” [are] for third-level is essential. What does that mean for the students due back to college in a matter of days?”

Rosie Roberts-Kuntz – Assistant News Editor