Dublin moved to level three to stop return to 'the worst days of the crisis'

Social gatherings have been curtailed, travel outside the county stopped, and sports matches cancelled under tough new Covid-19 restrictions placed on the capital
Dublin moved to level three to stop return to 'the worst days of the crisis'

Taoiseach Micheál Martin addressing the nation at Government Buildings. Picture: Julien Behal

Businesses have been left "devastated and heartbroken" and may never reopen following the second forced closure of Dublin pubs and restaurants.

Social gatherings have been curtailed, travel outside the county stopped, and sports matches cancelled under tough new Covid-19 restrictions placed on the capital.

Dublin has now been raised to level three for the next three weeks with the rest of the country on level two after the Cabinet accepted all the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) — a move which sparked a backlash from already struggling businesses.

Addressing the nation, Taoiseach Micheál Martin warned that the capital is now in "a very dangerous place" and "without further urgent and decisive action, there is a very real threat that Dublin could return to the worst days of this crisis".

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that if the rising numbers in the capital, which recorded 116 of the 253 total cases confirmed Friday, are not "nipped in the bud, more people will get sick, more people will be hospitalised, more people need to go to ICU and, sadly, more people will die".

As so-called 'wet pubs' across the country prepare to open their doors for the first time in over six months on Monday, businesses in the capital have been dealt another hammer blow.

The decision prompted fury last night with Drinks Ireland warning the measures will signal the final call for many Dublin pubs and restaurants that are now being treated as "political scapegoats".

Reacting, Gina Murphy, owner of Hugo’s restaurant said: “We are devastated, we followed every guideline, we did everything asked of us. This is just heartbreaking and financially so destructive. It is so hard to keep taking these knocks. We are on our knees already."

Under the new restrictions, Dubliners will be asked not to leave county unless absolutely necessary, and people have been told not to travel into the capital unless for work for other essential reasons.

People are allowed just six people visit their homes and only from one other household from Saturday, while those celebrating their wedding in Dublin will have to cut their numbers down to just 25 people from Monday.

However, the restrictions are likely to have the biggest impact on the hospitality sector as all pubs and restaurants have been be banned from serving customers indoors, but can remain open for takeaway and delivery. They must limit any outdoor dining to a maximum of 15 people.

Mr Martin said he understands how "exhausting, how infuriating, how lonely" recent months have been but said people must remember Covid-19 is "still deadly" and the only way to slow the new wave of the virus down is by working together and making sacrifices.

"As well as being Taoiseach, I am also a father, a husband, a brother, a sports fan, someone who likes a pint with my friends," he said.

I know the havoc that the virus is causing for some sections of our economy, and the hardship that it is causing in particular within our hospitality trade and in our arts and culture community.

"But I also know this, my first and most important obligation, and that of Government, is to protect you.

"This virus kills. It kills more old people than young, but it kills young people too. And the ones it doesn’t kill, it leaves many of them sick and disabled for months."

More in this section