The Republic of Ireland has become the latest nation to announce that they are going into a new lockdown, with a second wave of Coronavirus gripping much of Europe.
This comes just days after Northern Ireland and Wales announced that they were going to begin a ‘circuit breaker‘ lockdown during the school half term, and a week after France implemented a curfew across many of its major cities.
Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium have all gone into partial lockdown in recent weeks, whilst Germany has imposed new travel restrictions.
Most of Europe – with the exception of Sweden – now have significant measures in place, such as mandatory masks in indoor places and limits on gatherings – usually between 6 and 10 people.
Ireland’s new lockdown goes further than most other European nations, with all non-essential shops closing and a 5km (3 mile) travel limit for exercise being imposed, aiming to limit the current trajectory of infection rates.
Much like in England, Ireland is using a tiered lockdown system; the country is set to move into its highest level for six weeks, which will prevent all social gatherings within households or gardens, except for tightly controlled weddings and funerals.
Taoiseach, Michael Martin, announced the latest measures in an address to the nation.
“If we pull together over the next six weeks we will be able to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way … the journey will not be easy but the future is in our hands. We must each dig deep and persevere.”
Many of the highest infection rate areas within Ireland are around the border with Northern Ireland. The whole island of Ireland, along with Wales are now set to head into much tighter measures, and there is growing pressure on Westminster and Holyrood to also act decisively to bring in tighter measures to disrupt the spread of the virus in England and Scotland.
Opposition leaders have been calling for a short, two-week circuit breaker, similar to those being imposed in Northern Ireland and Wales, with reports suggesting the SAGE committee had recommended such measures to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has instead placed certain high infection rate areas into Tier Two and Tier Three restrictions.
Ireland’s current infection rate in 261 per 100,000 people, lower than those in England, Scotland, France and Spain; the government are also set to renew the wage subsidy for those who are unable to work due to the closures. People with average earnings over €400 a week and above will receive €350 (£320) a week, whilst subsidies are being put in place for businesses who are struggling to pay worker’s wages.