The Kildare lockdown has been lifted by the Government with immediate effect.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) met earlier today and reviewed the epidemiological situation in Kildare and confirmed that it continues to improve and is now broadly similar to that across the country.
In a statement released after an incorporeal Cabinet meeting the Government said it 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.
"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 rolling five-day average in Kildare is 10.8 cases as of August 29. This compares to a 5-day average of 22.2 cases in Kildare on August 6. 75 cases were notified in Kildare in the week to August 29. This compares to 238 cases notified in the week to August 8, 170 cases in the week to August 15, and 159 cases in the week to August 22.
The number of cases attributable to community transmission or possible community transmission in Kildare over the past 14 days (August 16-29) has been 36%. Nationally, the community transmission/possible community transmission rate also stands at 36%.
As the epidemiological situation both nationally and in Kildare are broadly similar, there is no longer a rationale for a differentiated approach between Kildare and the rest of the country.
The restrictions were in place in the county since last month.
It was one of three counties – along with Laois and Offaly – which saw lockdown conditions imposed on them in the face of clusters of Covid-19 cases related to meat factories.
Laois and Offaly had their lockdown restrictions lifted last week but Kildare was kept under severe restrictions because of high case numbers.
Earlier, senior Government sources confirmed to the Irish Examiner that ministers were meeting at 3.30pm to approve the one-item agenda, brought by health minister Stephen Donnelly.
Those sources have said the recommendation from the minister is that the lifting of restrictions would be immediate once it was approved.
There was widespread disappointment and anger in Kildare when its lockdown conditions were maintained earlier this month, but this development will be a welcome relief for the county.
Yesterday, Independent TD Cathal Berry said it was "highly likely" the Kildare local lockdown would be lifted in the coming days.
Mr Berry said he was very optimistic about an early exit from lockdown.
The restrictions in the county were extended for two more weeks earlier this month, despite the restrictions being lifted in Laois and Offaly.
However, Dr Ronan Glynn said last week that health officials would explore easing measures as early as they could.
Recent days have seen a low number of new cases in Kildare, including just seven confirmed on Thursday and fewer again yesterday.
Mr Berry - a retired senior medical officer who now represents Kildare South - said the recent numbers are encouraging.
He said: "The next NPHET meeting is Monday or Tuesday of next week. If you look at the data... the numbers are very, very reassuring - in fact actually encouraging."
Local TD James Lawless and local councillor Robert Power confirmed the lifting of restrictions on Facebook before the official announcement was made.
"The Minister for Health informed me this afternoon that Kildare has now fallen below danger levels for Covid-19 transmission and can come out of local lockdown. This is great news for local businesses, associations, galleries, sports and anyone who could not open or operate during the past few weeks," Mr Lawless said.
"I've just had confirmation that Government has decided to lift additional restriction measures on Kildare. We're not out of the woods yet and our numbers remain high but thanks to the extra sacrifices made by the people of Kildare, what could have been a very substantial wave of fatalities has been curtailed. This is great news in a week where thousands of excited children finally get to return to some sort of normality. Let's keep our efforts up for them!," Mr Power said.