Covid-19 Q&A: What's different about this lockdown?

Covid-19 Q&A: What's different about this lockdown?

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer.

Ireland will re-enter level 5 lockdown in a bid to stem the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

However, this version of lockdown will differ from March, when all but the most essential of services remained open.

How long will it last?

The initial plan is for the lockdown to last for six weeks, which would bring us to the first week in December. 

However, the impact of the lockdown will be assessed after four weeks with hope in the Government that the plan will have worked enough by then to allow some easing of restrictions as the run-up to Christmas begins.

As with all restrictions thus far, there is also the possibility that they would be extended if the numbers don't drop.

The restrictions will come into effect at midnight on Wednesday.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that if the plan works, we "can celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way".

Do I have to stay close to home?

Unfortunately, yes. The 5km restriction imposed in the earlier lockdowns will apply, meaning that all exercise will have to take place within that radius of your home.

The government's guidance reads:

"At Level 5, the public health risk means that you will be asked to stay at home, except to exercise within five kilometres of your home."

A series of graduated fines will be introduced for those who break the guidance.

Who can I see?

The new rules allow for "support bubbles".

Based on the UK idea, a "bubble" is a group of people that a person can have close contact with, this would allow single adults living alone, single parents with children under 18 or the elderly to have close contact with one other set of people.

It is recommended support these are local to avoid necessary travel and should not be part of a chain.

What will be open?

Like March, the guidance will revert to allowing only essential services to open. 

However, one key difference, however, will be that the definition of "essential" will change. 

Unlike March, construction and manufacturing will not shut down at all, with Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien last week saying that the sector was "essential".

"Construction will remain an essential service. I do not envisage a shut down in the construction sector."

The biggest single difference, of course, will be that schools and childcare will remain open, having shut entirely in March. 

Colleges will remain as they are, with most lectures online.

Should I go to work?

You should only go to work if you absolutely can't do it from home. 

Here, you should work from home unless it is for working in health, social care or any other essential service and cannot be done from home.

What about pubs and restaurants?

As in March, pubs and restaurants will revert to takeaway food and drink only, as will wet pubs. 

Nightclubs, casinos and discos will remain closed.

Picture: Sarko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie
Picture: Sarko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

And sports?

There is some good news for fans of elite sport, at least. The GAA inter-county championships will go ahead, though behind closed doors. 

Other elite sports such as horse racing and League of Ireland soccer will be allowed to continue. 

For children, non-contact training will be allowed to continue in pods of 15 children.

What about events like funerals and weddings?

Indoor events will be banned, with just 10 people allowed to attend a funeral.

For those getting married, there will be 25 allowed to attend. Other religious events should be held online, according to the guidelines.

No organised outdoor gatherings will be allowed to take place.

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