The capital is urged to act now or face a slide towards even tougher restrictions in the weeks ahead
Many post-lockdown freedoms could soon be over in more ways than one for Dubliners if the capital sinks further into the country’s Covid-19 danger zone.
The warnings about Dublin being in a critical phase have been issued for weeks now but seem to be ignored by too many.
It has led to infectious-disease consultant Dr Sam McConkey caution that if the recent rate of infection continues it would lead to 5,000 new cases of the virus every day in the city and county by the end of next month.
It could mean more severe restrictions under the Government’s new Covid-19 plan with many shutters coming down again.
The figures for the rising levels of virus in Dublin since mid-August in particular tell their own striking story.
It’s what has led to the forecast of 5,000 cases a day until the spread can be slowed and brought under control.
The virus is creeping up and taking hold.
In the two weeks up to last Sunday there were 1,282 cases.
This compares with 717 cases in the last fortnight in August.
Dublin north west has the highest 14-day incidence rate of 131.5 per 100,000. Dublin south east is also badly affected with a rate of 113.2 per 100,000. Even Dublin south, which has the lowest rate at 42.6 per 100,000, is at worrying levels. Contrast that figure with the rate for Co Cork at 9.6 per 100,000.
There have been several outbreaks of the virus in people's homes and from people socialising in groups where physical distancing has not been observed. Community transmission is also a problem with people catching the virus and unable to say what the source was.
Dublin is being singled out for tougher restrictions than the rest of the country. Wet pubs cannot open, people are being advised to limit travel outside the county and if they do travel to only meet one other household. No more than two households should meet at any given time. Visitors to people’s homes should be limited to six from one other household. If going to a pub or restaurant, you should not meet up with someone from more than one other household and in a group of no more than six. There are those who think this approach is too soft, although owners of wet pubs are understandably distraught.
Prof McConkey has said leadership and restrictions are fine, but it all comes back to the individual – how we behave day to day, how business owners and managers operate, how people socialise. He suggested if people are going out to a restaurant to stick to people from your own household. Make the most of the outdoors. The basic messages on physical distancing - handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes and wearing a mask - were never more needed. The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) will meet tomorrow to review the Dublin figures and decide if more restrictive measures should be imposed.
If Dublin moves up to Level 3 restrictions, it could mean non-contact sports training only in pods of up to 15 – there will be exemptions for professional, elite, inter-county sports and senior club championship teams.
No exercise or dance classes. No matches or events to take place. Professional, elite, inter-county, club championships and horse-racing can take place behind closed doors.
No classes in gyms. Religious services move online. Places of worship remain open for private prayer.
Museums, galleries and other cultural attractions would be closed. Libraries would be available for e-services and call-and-collect services. There would be additional restrictions for indoor dining. Visits to nursing homes would be suspended, except on compassionate grounds.
The number of patients in hospital nationally is rising and there is also a small increase in intensive care admissions. The fear is that if the spread of the virus continues at its current rate in Dublin, more vulnerable people will end up seriously ill and there will be a rise in deaths.