Cabinet to discuss Level 4 restrictions for Donegal and Border counties

Retail restrictions pose a challenge after new measures announced in Northern Ireland

Cabinet to discuss Level 4 restrictions for Donegal and Border counties

Donegal and other border counties are facing more restrictions due to rising infection rates

The Cabinet is expected to meet tonight to discuss the possibility of Donegal and other border counties moving to Level 4 of the State’s Living with Covid framework.

Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan have the highest incidence rates of Covid-19 in the country and the consideration of a move to Level 4 follows the announcement of the escalation of measures in Northern Ireland on Wednesday morning.

Schools will close for two weeks as part of an extended mid-term break and restaurants and pubs will be restricted to take-away and delivery services only for four weeks under measures aimed at driving down the Covid-19 incidence rate in the North.


Differences in retail

The consideration of a move to Level 4 in Border counties creates issues around the status of the retail sector.

Level 4 measures would mean only essential retail and services would remain open in the Republic but retail will remain open under the new measures in the North, which come into effect on Friday. 

It is feared the different situations for retail on either side of the Border could send shoppers into the North, which has some of the highest rates in the UK.

Donegal’s incidence rate has continued to rise and increased from 293 to 354 in a week. The county saw 565 new cases over the 14 days up to October 12, figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre show.

The county has had the highest rate in the country in recent weeks but has been overtaken by Cavan which has a rate of 412. Monaghan has a 14-day incidence rate of 312 followed by Clare with 308. The national rate is 177.

Donegal joined Dublin on Level-3 restrictions on September 25 and the whole country moved to Level 3 last week.


Recommendations

The National Public Health Emergency Team is expected to make recommendations to the Government tomorrow.

Tánaitse Leo Varadkar said on Wednesday the Government would respond to the decisions made in Northern Ireland but the incidence rates in Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan mean those counties could see further restrictions. 

Closures of schools seem unlikely as Mr Vardakar said the Government's Living with Covid plan allows for schools to remain open at Level 5.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly also said schools will remain open despite the new measures in the North. 

“Obviously we are very cognisant of what is happening in Northern Ireland. It was the right move by the executive in my opinion. The situation is of concern. Their case numbers are several times ours when you adjust for population,” Mr Donnelly said.

 READ MORE: Donegal people brace themselves for Cabinet decision on whether or not to move to Level 4

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