Coronavirus plan: New measures come into effect at midnight as Dublin restrictions said to be ‘proportionate’

The Cabinet is meeting to discuss Ireland’s new medium-term plan for dealing with coronavirus, Living with Covid-19, which will come into effect at midnight on Tuesday.

The Government is expected to escalate the alert level of Dublin above the rest of the State under its new plan.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath said any new restrictions in the capital would be “proportionate”.

“We do not want to get back to a point where we are seeing the people in hospital and ICU growing significantly and we can’t afford to let that happen. Steps will be taken but they will be proportionate and it will remain open to Government in the weeks ahead to review the decision again.”

At issue is whether to keep Dublin at the second-most benign level of the five-level plan, Level 2, despite the number of cases increasing twentyfold in the course of a month in the capital, or to raise it to Level 3.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said officials wanted to ensure “trends they see in Dublin which is a rapid increase in the virus do not spread to the rest of the country.”

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, speaking on his way into the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning, said that “the road map is about how we suppress the virus, how we move locally, how we move quickly”.

Mr Donnelly said the new measures would come into effect at midnight and they would be about “how we take the lead from public health doctors to do what we know works to stop this virus, to allow people to live their lives and protect the health care system, keep the schools open, protect jobs, protect lives. That’s what today will be all about”.

Mr Donnelly said that the lesson learned from Laois, Offaly and Kildare was that if a community quickly gets behind the public health doctors and their advice that the virus can be suppressed quickly.