The government will consider today whether to place the country back into a second lockdown.
364 cases were confirmed on Sunday evening with every county registering new incidences. More men than women are among the 364 cases announced with 74% of them aged under 45 years. 27% are associated with outbreaks or are close contacts of a confirmed case while 42 have been identified as community transmission.
100 are in Dublin, 55 in Cork, 31 in Donegal, 24 in Limerick, 23 in Galway,17 in Clare, 14 in Sligo, 13 in Roscommon, 10 in Kerry, eight each in Tipperary and Wicklow, seven in Kildare, six in both Kilkenny and Offaly, five in Cavan, Mayo and Meath with the remaining 27 cases in nine counties, including Carlow.
Level Five Recommendation …
The National Public Health Emergency Team has recommended all counties be moved to level five restrictions.
The news on Saturday that there had been more than 600 cases of COVID-19 reported that day prompted an emergency meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team.
Under the chairmanship of Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan for the first time since July, it’s recommendation caught those in government buildings completely by surprise.
NPHET has said every county should move to the most severe level of restrictions and return to essentially a full lockdown.
Public Health Officials said level five is now needed for four weeks to deal with the increasing spread of the virus.
If adopted it would mean all social visits would be banned, travel restricted to exercise within five kilometres of your house and all but essential service work should be done from home.
All but essential retail shops would have to close and cafes & restaurants move to takeaway only for the entire month of October.
Anger and surprise greeted the news in government circles, with former Minister Barry Cowen calling it the nuclear option.
Some Ministers have wondered if NPHET is playing a political game – asking for level five when it wants level four and to perhaps scare people into changing their behaviour, though that would be out of character with how NPHET has acted to date.
But when the cabinet meets this afternoon they will want to know why such an escalation is justified – and there are fears about what the impact socially and economically will be.
The CMO will first meet with the coalition party leaders – and he’ll have to convince them it’s the right plan before trying to convince the country.
Business Bites …
It comes as businesses are calling on the Government to publish the medical evidence to justify a move to Level Five Covid-19 restrictions.
IBEC says after six months people are still getting vague and changing criteria in the fight against the spread of the virus.
The group is predicting a smaller than expected decline of just 2.6% in the Irish economy next year.
It’s calling for a cut in the Vat rate to 9% in next week’s budget to try and prop up hospitality businesses.
The business lobby group’s chief economist Ger Brady says the pandemic has created two completely different economies noting “A number of sectors particularly the hospitality, the travel sector have done really poorly and paid for the significant economic hit on the back of public health measures, other sectors, particularly the exporting sectors, are proving really resilient so overall you’re seeing what we’re calling a K shaped recovery where there is a growing gap between different companies and different sets of workers depending on how exposed you are to the public health measures”.
Face Coverings …
The law requiring face coverings on public transport has been extended.
It was due to run out at midnight last night, however the Department of Health has now pushed it out to 9th November.
The North’s Deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill has said any form of short lockdown in Northern Ireland would only work, if it is across the entire island.
Due to rising case numbers there are considerations in the North to bring in a two week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown.
The concept would involve a two week shutdown – which in theory gives public health officials an extra month in the fight against Covid-19.
And in the US a top doctor’s criticised Donald Trump after he got into a car to greet crowds outside the hospital where he’s being treated for coronavirus.
The President sat in an armoured SUV, waving to people as he was driven along the road.
But a physician at the centre caring for Mr Trump claims his team’s been put at risk.
Sky’s US correspondent Greg Milam says Doctor James Phillips made the comments in a tweet.
Meanwhile Covid-19 restrictions in New Zealand’s largest city are to be lifted this week.
No new cases or clusters have been reported in Auckland for the past 10 days.
The city will now join the rest of New Zealand on Level One restrictions, meaning an effective end to social distancing rules.