Less than a month after restrictions on nightclubs were lifted, a curfew has been put back in place by the Dublin government amidst rising Covid-19 cases.
There were approximately 4,400 positive coronavirus cases yesterday and hospitals have been inching closer to full capacity. To combat this rise in positive cases the government has urged the public to reduce their social interactions, and yesterday announced some protective measures:
– Bars, restaurants and nightclubs will have a midnight closing time from tomorrow (Thursday November 18);
– There will be a return to working from home;
– Vaccine passports must be presented in movie theaters;
– Entire household must self-isolate for five days following a positive case.
Schools remain fully in-person, and thousands of students are expected to be in attendance for their final exams in just a few weeks. Taoiseach Micheál Martin also said that further restrictions are a possibility, “We could reduce socialisation by closing a lot more. But we don’t want to close a lot more yet.”
Representing the frustration of the hospitality sector, Licensed Vintners Association Chief Executive Donall O’Keefe said,
“We were told that if we waited until the majority of the public was vaccinated we would be able to get back to trading. Well, we waited and that wasn’t enough… Late night hospitality was closed for 585 consecutive days, got to open for 27 days, and now they face another indefinite period of closure… every time the Government flicks the switch on restrictions there are consequences for people’s livelihoods and the businesses that sustain those livelihoods…”
Criticism was also leveled by UFC star Conor McGregor, who had initially supported the March 2020 lockdown. A portion of the now-deleted tweets read:
“We are almost 3 years into this. We have came together time and time again! Gone above and beyond what has been asked of us! Yet all we have gotten back is hypocritical address after hypocritical address! The audacity! […] I am ashamed of my nations government at this time.” [sic]
Absent from all government announcements was the fact that the healthcare system has been overloaded and underfunded for several years. Pre-pandemic, in 2019 there were over 200,000 children on healthcare waiting lists. In 2018, Ireland’s healthcare system was ranked one of the worst in Europe, in comparison to 35 other countries, some of which have far more limited means. On a scale of 1,000 points, Ireland scored just 630.
These new restrictions apply only to the Republic, whereas ministers in the North are currently considering introducing Covid vaccine passports for indoor dining. Restrictions are also being re-introduced in several other European countries.
Update November 18, 2021 at 1pm EST:
The Stormont government have approved introducing Covid vaccine passports for hospitality in the North, taking effect December 13. An exemption to this requirement is a negative Covid test taken within 48 hours. Four parties in the Northern Executive supported the move, while the Democratic Unionist Party voted against the policy.
In response to these measures, Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann was subjected to a threat by graffiti in Dungannon, County Tyrone, and also to social media threats which resulted in the arrest of a 44-year-old man.