Ireland to decide on new COVID-19 measures early next week – minister

A man wears a protective face mask while walking along a street as the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) announced recommendations that the government implement the highest level of COVID-19 restrictions to Level 5, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in the City centre of Galway, Ireland

Irish ministers will meet again early next week to decide whether to tighten COVID-19 restrictions, a senior minister said on Saturday after a meeting with health chiefs who have recommended a return to national lockdown.

Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Friday that further action is needed to slow the spread of the virus. Local media reported that health chiefs had renewed their calls for a second national lockdown that the cabinet rejected two weeks ago.

The government moved three counties on its open border with Northern Ireland, which is harder hit by COVID-19, to Level 4 of its five-step framework on Wednesday and banned most visits to homes across the country. The other 23 counties are on Level 3, which introduced a ban of all indoor restaurant dining.

“Obviously we share their (the top doctors) concern, we listened intently but government have to balance up a number of variables,” Transport Minister Eamonn Ryan told reporters.

“We’ll come back again early next week.”

Ireland broke its record for the number of cases recorded in a single day for the fourth time in the space of a week on Saturday with 1,276 new infections bringing cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days to 232.

Ireland had the 12th highest 14-day rate among the 31 countries monitored by the European Union’s independent European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, according to data collated on its website on Saturday.

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