Ireland Is the First European Country to Return to Nationwide Shutdown
With coronavirus cases back on the rise in Europe, Ireland has become the first European country to reinstitute a nationwide lockdown.
The government’s stay-at-home order went into effect Wednesday at midnight and requires all nonessential businesses in Ireland to close. Bars and restaurants are limited to takeout and delivery. Residents are being asked to stay within three miles of home, unless they’re essential workers commuting to their jobs.
Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar described the move as a “preemptive strike against the virus” during a Monday news conference covered by NPR.
Ireland has seen more than 51,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 1,850 deaths, according to its Department of Health. Cases in Ireland — one of several European countries seeing a resurgence in COVID-19 — have risen by 75% since early September, according to NPR.
Under the latest restrictions, schools and childcare centers in Ireland are able to remain open, but visits to private homes are not allowed. “If we pull together over the next six weeks, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way,” Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said when announcing the restrictions.
Police are instituting checkpoints along roadways to deter road trips and other nonessential journeys. It’s not yet clear what the penalties will be for violating domestic travel restrictions.
The current restrictions are expected to be in place through at least Dec. 1 and to cost Ireland’s economy some 150,000 jobs, according to Varadkar. The Irish government is promising increased pandemic unemployment assistance and grants to help.
Irish officials had floated — and rejected — the idea of additional shutdowns just two weeks ago.