Tough new Covid-19 restrictions imposed on three midlands counties from today could be extended to other areas, the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has warned the Government .
Travel restrictions have been put in place for a fortnight for those living in Kildare, Laois and Offaly and many businesses have been ordered to close amid rising clusters.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn said yesterday there is no guarantee the restrictions will be lifted in two weeks’ time.
He said the purpose of the recommendations was to make them before there was significant community transmission.
In a letter to Government, Dr Glynn said the NPHET “emphasised that the measures being put in place today could apply to any other region in the future”.
He said while admissions to hospitals and critical care, as well as levels of deaths, are not currently showing worrying trends there may be a delay before changes to these indicators become apparent.
Under the measures, residents of Kildare, Laois and Offaly can now only travel within their own county except for work, medical appointments or vital family reasons.
Restaurants and cafes have been ordered to close their indoor areas, while hotels cannot accommodate tourists except for guests already present.
The restrictions mean all indoor gatherings must now be restricted to a maximum of 6 people from no more than three households .
Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 15 people.
Most visits to residential facilities and prisons will not be allowed while over 70s have been told to stay at home as much as possible.
All cinemas, theatres, betting shops, gyms, leisure centres, will have to close in the three counties.
There will be no sporting events or matches.
However, creches and hairdressers may remain open.
An attendance limit of 25 people outdoors is set for a funerals or six people indoors.
Regulations to allow the Garda to enforce the new measures are due to be drawn up by the Department of Health over the weekend with checkpoints expected in the three counties.
Announcing the move, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Government was forced to make “difficult decisions” in imposing new restrictions.
“We can’t afford to wait and see, the disease is not waiting,” he said.
Over the past 14 days, 289 cases of Covid-19 have emerged in these three counties representing almost half of all cases detected in the State during that time.
Most of the cases are linked to food-processing plants in the region, with two factories having over 80 cases.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said there cannot be situations where those working in meat factories are afraid to take sick pay and they must feel secure enough to get a test.
NPHET confirmed yesterday that another four people with coronavirus in the State had died and there were and 98 new confirmed cases of Covid-19.
This is the highest one-day rise in new confirmed cases since May 22nd.
Meanwhile the Department of Education released new guidance for schools, yesterday meaning secondary students and primary and post-primary teachers will be required to wear face coverings in class when a physical distance of 2m cannot be maintained.