Galway will be joining all of Ireland at Level 3 of COVID-19 restrictions from midnight tomorrow night, with a renewed focus on enforcement of rules.
Currently just Dublin and Donegal are at Level 3, while the remainder of the country is at Level 2.
The Cabinet met this evening to discuss NPHET recommendations, and ultimately decided not to proceed with the recommendation of public health officials, but to still elevate the current level of restrictions.
NPHET made the recommendation on Sunday that all of Ireland should be raised to Level 5 restrictions immediately for a period of four weeks.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin addressed the nation this evening, where he said that there has been an “exponential increase” in the rate of infection across the country, prompting a move to Level 3 in the new roadmap for living with COVID-19.
Until there is an effective vaccine, the coronavirus will have to be managed in daily life, the Taoiseach said before announcing the enhanced measures.
“As our public health officials have pointed out, there has been a serious rise in the number of cases.”
NPHET informed the government that recent trends across the country are of serious concern, and the government has been working to find a solution that is as “effective and proportionate” as possible the Taoiseach said.
Discussions with NPHET have looked at the impact that jumping straight to Level 5 would have on businesses, which are just reopening, and a backlog in public health services that aren’t related to COVID-19 Taoiseach Martin said, emphasising that Ireland is at a very different place to last March.
“Severe restrictions now would have a very damaging impact, which those businesses and services might not be able to recover from.”
Moving to heavy lockdown could result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, the Taoiseach said, as well as having a serious impact on non-COVID-19 related health issues, particularly the mental health impact on isolated people.
Efforts will also be made to step up enforcement and compliance with guidelines along with a move towards Level 3 restrictions.
While the majority of people are complying with COVID-19 guidelines, others have adopted a more “lax attitude” which poses a danger, he said. “The virus is spreading because people are allowing it to spread.”
“If we all act now, we can stop the need to go further with introducing Level 4 or 5 restrictions,” Micheál Martin said.
“I have no doubt that we can and will get through this. We will reach a time when we can go about our lives without worrying if we will catch or transmit this virus.”
What happens next is in our own hands and the efforts that people make to care for others and prevent the spread of the virus Taoiseach Martin said.