| 4.6°C Dublin

10km limit and social bubble under plans for lockdown

  • New strict restrictions for three to four weeks
  • Elite sports may be allowed to continue

Close

Most shops are expected to be closed under the new restrictions which will be announced by the Government today. Photo: Frank McGrath

Most shops are expected to be closed under the new restrictions which will be announced by the Government today. Photo: Frank McGrath

Most shops are expected to be closed under the new restrictions which will be announced by the Government today. Photo: Frank McGrath

Schools and creches will remain open under strict new Covid-19 restrictions being considered by the Government.

Cabinet ministers are also hoping to allow elite sports, such as the GAA championship and horse racing, to continue when it unveils a raft of new rules aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.

However, new restrictions may see people banned from travelling beyond 5km or 10k from their home.

Bars, restaurants, gyms and swimming pools along with most shops may also be asked to close.

Household visits will be banned but people will be permitted to expand their household bubble to include close family members, isolated people and those in need of care.

An eviction ban will also be introduced to coincide with any new measures restricting travel to within counties to ensure people cannot be put out of their homes during a second lockdown.

This morning, the three Government leaders, along with senior ministers and officials will meet chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan and HSE boss Paul Reid.

The stricter measures will be a merger of Level 4 and Level 5 restrictions set out in the Government's Plan for Living with Covid-19.

It is expected they will reject Nphet's suggestion of a six-week lockdown and instead go for between three and four weeks with a review at the end of the period.

Construction sites and manufacturing companies are expected to stay open along with other essential services and shops.

Household visits will continue to be banned and people may be asked to remain within 10km of their home. Ministers are also considering 5km but this may be increased to 10km to allow families to travel further with children during the midterm school break.

Close

Minister Simon Harris

Minister Simon Harris

Minister Simon Harris

Isolated

A so-called 'social bubble' system is to be introduced to ensure people are not isolated during a second lockdown.

The system will be based on the New Zealand model which allows people to expand their household bubble to connect with close family, bring in carers or support isolated people.

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris told RTÉ's The Week in Politics he is in favour of introducing bubbles.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Culture Minister Catherine Martin are both understood to have advocated for the system.

The Government is not expected to use the term 'bubble' but will introduce a similar system.

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien is planning to re-introduce a moratorium on evictions to coincide with restrictions on movement.

He is working with Attorney General Paul Gallagher to introduce a similar ban to the one announced during the first lockdown. He is insisting on new legislation which would ensure people cannot be forced to leave their homes during a lockdown.

Mr O'Brien is hoping to put the ban into law which would see the eviction moratorium automatically come into force if more severe travel restrictions are introduced.

Government leaders and senior ministers held a four-hour meeting on Saturday with Dr Tony Holohan, his deputy Dr Ronan Glynn and HSE chief executive Paul Reid.

They discussed the various strands and impacts of a second lockdown ahead of another meeting due to take place today. This will be followed by a full Cabinet meeting.

On Saturday, ministers heard child welfare referrals had gone down during the first lockdown while domestic violence calls went up.

They were also told the situation with intensive care hospital beds is concerning but not yet critical. The number of people on hospital trolleys at present is not far off a normal October, they were told.

They also considered the impact of more severe coronavirus restrictions on businesses and employment.

Talks took place over the weekend between the Government and the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (Ibec) about encouraging more people to work from home in the coming weeks.

There are also plans underway to ensure the recently announced Covid-19 Restriction Support Scheme, which is not yet up and running, can be back-dated if new restrictions are announced this week.

There are concerns within Government about become an "outlier" in Europe by imposing more severe restrictions than other EU states.

"The last time we went into these type of measures lots of Europe was going into it but this time there is a risk we go into it and other don't and we become an outliers," a minister said. "Even the markets will look at us differently then," they added.

Fine Gael ministers agreed a wide range of factors should be taken into account when new restrictions are being considered. During a conference call with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar they agreed there was a need for public "buy in" with any new measures introduced by the Government.


Privacy