Fear and surprise: Teachers and businesses respond to lockdown proposal

Fear and surprise: Teachers and businesses respond to lockdown proposal

While it is expected that there will be some push back on the proposal from the Government, Nphet's has been met with anxiety, fear, and frustration from several Irish businesses and representative organisations.

There has been widespread shock at recommendations from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) that Ireland should move to level 5 of the Government’s ‘Living with Covid Plan' - the highest possible restriction level

Such a move would essentially represent a return to the lockdown measures imposed on the country in April and May of this year. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan will meet the chief medical officer (CMO) Dr Tony Holohan today to discuss the shocking recommendation which would see the vast majority of counties moved from Level 2 to Level 5.

While it is expected that there will be some push back on the proposal from the Government, the proposal has been met with surprise, anxiety, fear, and frustration on the part of many Irish businesses and representative organisations.

Speaking last night, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan stated that even if the entire country moved to level 5, Ireland's schools would not close their doors

The Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) has demanded an immediate review of whether is it safe for Ireland's schools to stay open.

Living with Covid-19, Level 5
Living with Covid-19, Level 5

In a statement last night, the INTO General Secretary John Boyle said: said: “Should the country be taken to Level 5 this week, INTO demands an immediate review of the public health landscape for schools. Such a review must determine if it is safe for our schools to stay open.

It is imperative that the education stakeholders convene early this week to explore the issues which may need to be dealt with. 

The secondary teachers union - the ASTI - has also called for a review of safety in schools.

"The health, safety and welfare of all members of our school communities is of paramount importance," said Ann Piggott, president of the ASTI.

Irish businesses have also reacted with trepidation.

Adrian Cummins, CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, described the recommendation as "surprising, unexplainable and economically unreasonable."

"Government must decide if Ireland can live with Covid as outlined in the plan to tackle the virus or will they plunge the country into an economic lockdown as requested by NPHET," he said.

The Irish Business and Employers Federation, (Ibec) said a move to level 5 would have serious implications for Irish “economy and society.” 

Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said: “Given the seriousness of the NPHET recommendation for our economy and society, the Government’s Senior Officials Group must seek, review and publish the evidence that is underpinning these recommendations.

"It is intolerable that after six months we are still receiving both vague and changing criteria to advance such serious restrictions.”  

Given that a move to level 5 would once again Irish pubs forced to close their doors, The Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said the Government should "roundly reject" the move. 

Read more: Covid-19 restrictions - What is Level 5?

In a statement, the VFI said: In these turbulent times it takes something monumental to truly shock...so @CMOIreland and NPHET take a bow. 

"Genuinely stunning news that Level 5 is recommended for four weeks. The government must roundly reject something that will devastate pub and hospitality sector.

Meanwhile, the Hair and Beauty Industry Confederation (HABIC) has called the move "deeply worrying."

Speaking to Newstalk this afternoon Margret O’Rourke Doherty of HABIC said: "Salons have gone above and beyond what’s required, doing everything they possibly can to protect the health and wellbeing of their staff and their clients.

"So It’s sheer shock to think that we would move this fast to level 5."

Those working in the Irish medical system have also expressed some anxiety about the move. 

HSE Chief executive Paul Reid that NPHET's proposal needed to be considered in the context of "public health, wellbeing, mental health and the economy."

In a Tweet, Mr Reid said: "There's obvious concerns about the trends on Covid-19. But we also know the impacts of severe & regular restrictions in society on public health, wellbeing, mental health, and the economy. 

"Level 5 recommendation to Government has to be considered in this context too."


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