Coronavirus: Naughten calls for “relaxing” of lockdown where infection rates are low

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A Galway TD has said that the government should consider relaxing lockdown restrictions in parts of the country with “consistently low” Covid-19 infection numbers.

The country is currently in lockdown until May 5 to limit the spread of the coronavirus, but the government is expected to announce today that this will continue after that date, along with a roadmap for the lifting of restrictions.

But Galway-Roscommon TD Denis Naughten said that it makes “no sense” the parts of the country with low rates of infection should remain in lockdown “to the same extent” as areas where there is a significant problem.

Galway currently has 355 confirmed cases of Covid-19, putting it at the lower end of the scale nationwide, particularly considering its population, accounting for just 1.8% of confirmed cases.

By far the largest amount of Covid-19 cases are in Dublin which, with 9,967 cases, so far accounts for just under half of the total in the Republic.

The Independent TD emphasised that this is not about lifting all restrictions, but about smaller measures such as allowing older people to leave their homes, or increasing the 2km travel limit to 5km.

“As a first step, Government should list specific businesses that can open under certain conditions,” Deputy Naughten said, responding to the government’s request for proposals on easing restrictions.

“But we must go further and allow people to act in a responsible and mature manner themselves.”

“That is, allow those who can clearly demonstrate social distancing to go back to work, be it working on their own or working outside.”

However, any relaxing of restrictions such as returning to work, or meeting people outside of families, should be contingent on people wearing face coverings he added.

Rural areas with the lowest incidences of Covid-19 could serve as a “testbed” for for the further relaxation of lockdown restrictions in cities Denis Naughten suggested.

“After such heroic efforts by every citizen in this State to stop the spread of this virus we cannot allow a second wave of infection under any circumstances.”

“So we must remain cautious in how we relax restrictions, but we must also learn to live with Covid-19 which will be with us for a considerable time to come.”

The government’s plan to bring Ireland out of lockdown is expected to come in phases, with