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Kildare is free at last but rest of us still on notice

  • ‘A profound relief’

  • Localised lockdowns 'worked'

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Barry McKnight proprietor of the J-One Cafe in Athy which can reopen after a local lockdown was lifted

Barry McKnight proprietor of the J-One Cafe in Athy which can reopen after a local lockdown was lifted

PA

Barry McKnight proprietor of the J-One Cafe in Athy which can reopen after a local lockdown was lifted

Kildare was celebrating being back in business today after a turnaround in its fortunes saw the county released from weeks of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn paid tribute to the way in which the people of Kildare followed the tougher rules after factory outbreaks of infections led to the curbs in an attempt to stop the virus getting a foothold in the community.

He admitted, however, that lessons need to be learned on the speed with which health authorities responded to the early outbreaks in terms of testing and tracing.

Success

The rate of virus is still highest in Kildare at 94 per 100,000 of the population, but Dr Glynn said the success in reining in the spread means there is now evidence that lower-level restrictions imposed locally work.

"I want to recognise the very significant impact of the measures on individuals, communities and businesses in Kildare over the past three weeks," he said.

"The improvement in the epidemiological situation there is a testament to the willingness of everyone to adhere to the public health guidance and measures implemented."

Following a Cabinet meeting a Government statement said: "The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) met earlier and reviewed the epidemiological situation in Kildare and confirmed that it continues to improve and is now broadly similar to that across the country."

The number of cases attributable to community transmission or possible community transmission in Kildare over the past 14 days has been 36pc.

Nationally, the community transmission or possible community transmission rate also stands at 36pc.

The statement says there is no longer a rationale for a differentiated approach between Kildare and the rest of the country.

"The Government recognises the very significant impact of the measures on individuals, communities and businesses in Kildare over the past three weeks, and acknowledges that the improved situation has been due to the willingness of everyone to adhere to the public health guidance and measures implemented," it added.

"While the situation in Kildare has improved, the national situation remains uncertain and the Government continues to stress the importance of adhering to the public health advice and guidance to stop the spread of the virus."

The business community in Co Kildare has breathed a huge sigh of relief after it was confirmed the local lockdown in the county will be lifted.

Allan Shine, chief executive of County Kildare Chamber, which represents 390 local businesses, said: "The news of the lifting of the lockdown in Kildare is very welcomed by the business community here who have faced an unprecedented three weeks of economic disaster."

However, he said the local economy isn't out of the woods.

"Cash flow remains the number one concern. The conversation must start now as to how we live and work with Covid until a vaccine is found.

Normality

"There is profound relief especially in the tourism, hospitality and leisure sectors where many employees have been let go and the hope is now that these businesses can start to trade immediately and get back to some kind of normality.

"Isolated lockdowns of affected areas need to be the way forward as the blunt instrument of county-wide lockdowns makes no sense at all and does not work," he added.

Asked about the video circulating on social media which-shows a group of young people drinking on the street in Killarney on Saturday night, Dr Glynn said there will always be these kind of incidents.

He said the vast majority of the country are following the rules and that is what matters.