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New curbs on home visit numbers and 'wet' pub reopening in doubt

Dublin now in 'critical phase' as infections continue to grow

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(Stock picture)

(Stock picture)

(Stock picture)

More than a million people face the prospect of new Covid-19 restrictions on visits to their homes due to concern over the rate of infections in the capital.

New limits on visitors to a person's home are expected to be introduced as early as tomorrow in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

The reopening of 'wet pubs' in the capital from September 21 is also at risk as ministers continue to deliberate on the issue amid the surge in Covid-19 cases.

Gardaí have stepped up visible patrols in the capital in a bid to ensure compliance with Covid-19 regulations.

Under new measures to be considered by Government, the number of visitors allowed to a home in Dublin would stay at six.

However, the Herald understands the number of households the visitors can come from would be reduced to as low as one from the current three as recommended by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) last week.

Infections

The Government put off a decision as ministers continue to finalise their broader 'Living with Covid' plan, which is due to be published tomorrow.

It comes as another person has died with the virus and there were 255 new cases.

156 of the cases reported last night were in Dublin, representing just over 60pc of the 255 new infections nationwide.

Acting chief medical officer (CMO) Dr Ronan Glynn took to social media over the weekend to urge people in Dublin to have fewer people visiting their homes.

He said the infection rate in Dublin was 78 cases per 100,000 and there were lots of cases clustered in households across the city and county.

Taoiseach Mr Martin last night denied that the Government is acting too slowly on introducing Nphet's recommendations for the capital.

He told RTÉ that ministers will be "acting decisively" when an endorsement of the guidance from Mr Glynn can be anticipated.

Asked about the situation in Dublin, Mr Martin also said: "We have to learn also from what we've done in the past.

"Certainly the severe restrictions brought in to Kildare, Laois and Offaly did work."

Government sources last night played down the chances of any imminent restrictions on non-essential travel into and out of Dublin as were imposed on those three counties last month.

One senior source pointed out that the rate of infection was at 200 per 100,000 people when the measure was introduced for Kildare.

"It's no small thing to move the capital city into a more intense level of restrictions when it's the centre of economic activity in the country," another source said.

Consideration of new restrictions for Dublin comes as gardaí increase visible patrols to support the public health response to tackle the rising number of cases in the capital.

The patrols will be on foot, in squad cars and on bikes throughout the county, with a focus on health guidelines like social distancing and gathering in large groups.

Vital

"There has been very good compliance with the public health guidelines to date," Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said.

"We want to thank the public for this.

"However, as the acting CMO has said, in Dublin we are now entering a critical phase.

"As a result, we will have a high visibility presence throughout Dublin.

"It is vital that people living in, working in and visiting Dublin limit their social interactions, maintain social distancing, wear face masks in shops and on public transport, and not gather in groups larger than outlined in the public health advice."

The Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19 will meet this evening as ministers seek to finalise the medium-term plan for living with the virus.

With no end in sight to the pandemic, strict limits on everyday life are set to last at least six months and the plan will set out five levels of restrictions.

Pushing

Level one will be the most lenient - allowing up to 10 visitors from three households to a person's home - while level five would be a return to the nationwide lockdown imposed in March.

We are effectively in level two of restrictions now.

Level three would involve instructions to people to stay within defined regions, counties or even areas within counties, though sources stressed no final decisions have been taken.

In level one of the plan 500 people would be allowed at sporting ventures with capacity for 5,000.

But it is understood that some in Government are pushing for this to be increased for stadiums like Croke Park or the Aviva.

The Government is also likely to adopt a traffic light system for foreign travel being developed by the EU.