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Q&A: So what's the long-term plan for dealing with the virus?

Is there going to be another lockdown because of all these cases we are seeing?

t doesn’t look like we are going to see a full-scale national lockdown like the one during the earlier stages of the pandemic, but there is a real threat of regional lockdowns happening based on the number of cases occurring in different parts of the country.


Well the caseload in Dublin recently has not made for good reading. The capital is consistently reporting a high volume of cases; and very often when the new cases are announced every evening, about half of them are in Dublin. There is concern about Limerick too and a new pop-up testing centre opened there last week so testing could be ramped up without the need for people to make an appointment.

So if Dublin or Limerick were to go in to lockdown, what would it look like?

We’re not quite sure on that yet. There were plans in place to establish a system that looked like the one Met Éireann uses for issuing weather warnings. Different colours could be used to outline how an area has been affected by Covid-19. But over recent weeks, plans have changed and been revised.

So what are we likely to see?

All will be revealed on Tuesday when the plan is unveiled. Apparently, it is designed for living with the virus and is a bit more long-term than anything we have seen to date.

What will it look like?

Well, what we do know is there will be five different levels to the plan and it is to be in place until April. Restrictions will apply differently at each level, depending on community infection and virus spread.

Sure how will we know how things are going to be then?

We don’t, but the idea is that rather than plans being changed all the time and people getting confused, at least now there will be one consistent plan in place that should not change. All that will change are the restrictions that will apply at specific times, and probably in different areas, depending on how we are coping with it.

What will they restrict?

Much of this is being kept under wraps until the big unveiling, but we have some indications on how gatherings are going to be affected. When the spread of the virus is considered low, gatherings with up to 100 can take place in pubs, hotels and restaurants. If the spread of the virus increases, the size of the gatherings decreases.

If level one allows for gatherings of 100 people, then level five will be very restrictive. For example, at level two we are to be allowed to have six people from three households in a house together. By the time it ramps up to level four, all household visits will be banned.

So what happens if we are at level four at Christmas?

Santa better bring PPE.

Yikes. You mentioned the pubs. Will they be open?

Well, last week, Nphet told the Government it might be premature to reopen all the pubs on September 21, and their reopening has been postponed too many times for anyone to be willing to stick their neck out. However, it must be seen as a good omen that the Government envisages we can get to a place where gatherings of up to 100 can happen. It is also keen that these happen only in organised settings, so there might be good news on the horizon for pubs yet.

Sunday Independent

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