Government under fire for way new Covid restrictions were implemented

Government under fire for way new Covid restrictions were implemented

Micheál Martin (centre) with Eamon Ryan and Leo Varadkar, pictured last night as new restrictions were announced. Picture: Julien Behal

The government have come under fire for the way in which the new Covid restrictions have been implemented.

The Taoiseach announced that household visits were banned across the country on Wednesday night, and raised Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal into Level 4.

In Level 4, only essential retail will be able to open, however, the government has widened the list from what it had previously listed as "essential", adding food markets, pharmacies, banks, post offices, and hardware shops.

Industry body Ibec said that it is disappointing that businesses are being subjected to increased restrictions at short notice.

CEO Danny McCoy said: “While the business community understands the need for phased restrictions may be justified, affording only 24 hours to prepare for such restrictions can have devastating cost implications for managing perishable stock and workforce planning.

“It is abundantly clear that we need to protect livelihoods as well as lives. 

"Businesses and their employees are being left to pick up the pieces from the impacts of additional restrictions and their input should be sought in a structured manner prior to making such decisions. "

In Leinster House, opposition politicians have likewise criticised the government for the way in which new restrictions were implemented.

Sinn Féin TD for Donegal Padraig MacLochlainn said the news had not gone down well in his constituency.

"There's been a very angry reaction understandably from retail businesses," he said.

"People have been in tears. The point Donegal people are making is in the north, it's very strict, but the retail shops are open.

"There's a general acceptance that stopping house visits is necessary, with the exception of people living alone.

"With retail businesses, it's gone down very badly. 

It's heartbreaking speaking to business owners, and I have no input in the decision and government hasn't contacted us.

"I found out on Twitter. The border TDs have not been briefed by the government. There's acceptance of a need to move through the gears, and there are real issues around the border, we do need the same public health response in Derry and Donegal, and we should've done that.

"Meath has almost identical incidence in Donegal, why was Meath not included? 

"It appears they decided Level 4 for Ulster but it has gone down very badly in Donegal, we feel like we're being picked out."

Labour leader Alan Kelly said the government needs to stop altering the Living with Covid plan or they will lose the goodwill of the public, and risk losing any semblance of a normal Christmas.

"The government needs to change course, there is utter confusion out there," he said.

"We have everyone in level 3 and Dublin at a hybrid level.

"We're saying very clearly that the government needs to stick to the plan, the plan has five stages, hybrids are not good.

"Move between levels if necessary, the government plan was sent out to every home in the country and unless they change tact this leaflet will be used for lighting the fire rather than being studied, it's not acceptable."

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