The Government has decided today that, from midnight tomorrow, Friday September 25th, the county of Donegal will be placed on Level 3 under the Plan for Living with Covid-19. This action is based on a review of the current public health advice and is in response to the deteriorating situation with the virus in Donegal.
The rest of the country remains at Level 2 apart from Dublin which is also at Level 3
Donegal will be at Level 3 for a period of 3 weeks, until Friday 16th October, at which point the situation will be reviewed by the Government, based on the status of the virus and public health advice.
The Government has also announced a 30% top-up to the Restart Plus grant to help support those affected through the three-week period. This will be available immediately through the normal application process at an estimated additional cost of €2m to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. In addition, applications from Donegal will be prioritised for the wide range of existing loan and voucher schemes available to assist businesses affected by Covid-19 through the July Jobs Stimulus and other Government initiatives.
The Government decision was guided by advice from NPHET and followed consideration at Cabinet. The NPHET recommendations are targeted specifically at limiting social contacts and reducing congregation.
Placing Donegal at Level 3 has the following implications for those living or working in Donegal:
• Visitors to private homes and gardens should be limited to a maximum number of 6 from one other household.
o No social/family gatherings should take place, with exemptions to this for weddings and funerals (see below).
• No organised indoor gatherings should take place. Organised outdoor gatherings are permitted, up to a maximum of 15 people.
• People living in Donegal should remain in the county (i.e. they must not leave Donegal to travel either domestically or internationally), with the exception of those who must travel for work, education and other essential purposes.
• People living outside of Donegal should not travel to Donegal, with the exception of those who must travel for work, education and other essential purposes.
• People working in Donegal are asked to work from home unless absolutely necessary.
• Schools, Early Learning and Childcare services should remain open. Adult and Higher Education Institutions should remain open, but are asked to review protective measures and take steps to limit congregation as much as possible.
• You are asked to walk or cycle where possible so that public transport is available for use by essential workers and for essential work only.
• No matches or other sporting events should take place, with the exception of professional, elite, inter county and senior club championship – all to take place behind closed doors.
• Horse racing may continue, but behind closed doors.
• Non-contact training activities can continue in the outdoors and in pods of up to 15, with certain exemptions (see below).
• Indoor training should be confined to individuals only and no classes are to take place.
Business and Services
• All retail shops and shopping centres may remain open. All services such as hairdressers, beauticians, barbers, opticians etc. may remain open.
• Libraries will be available for e-services and call and collect.
• All outdoor playgrounds, play areas, parks remain open.
• Gyms/leisure centres, swimming pools may remain open for individual use only and with protective measures.
• Hotels, Guesthouses and B&Bs may remain open, but with services limited to residents.
• Restaurants and Cafes (including bars/pubs serving food/wet pubs) may remain open for take-away and delivery and outdoor dining/service to a maximum of 15 people.
• Religious services will move online, though places of worship may remain open for private prayer.
• All indoor museums, galleries, cinemas and other cultural attractions should close.
Over 70s & Medically Vulnerable
• Those aged over 70 and the medically vulnerable are advised to continue to exercise personal judgement.
o It is recommended that they stay at home as much as possible, limit engagement to a very small network for short periods of time, while remaining physically distanced.
o When taking exercise outdoors, it is important to maintain 2 metres distance from others and wash hands on returning home.
o It is recommended to shop during designated hours only, while wearing a face covering, and to avoid public transport.
While difficult to quantify exactly, these restrictions will have a significant impact on businesses and employment in Donegal. In recognition of the impact of these restrictions on businesses in Donegal, it is proposed to provide a similar package of measures as was provided in the case of Kildare, Offaly, Laois, and Dublin. Therefore, a 30% top-up to the Restart Plus grant will be provided to help support those affected through the three-week period. Businesses who have previously benefited from the Restart Grant will be eligible to re-apply for this top-up. In addition, applications from Donegal will be prioritised for the wide range of existing loan and voucher schemes available to assist businesses affected by Covid-19 provided through the July Jobs Stimulus and other Government initiatives.
Other employment and income supports, including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, as well as the full range of employment, training and support services for affected workers, will also continue to be made available. The final cost will depend on numbers of additional claimants.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Weddings and Funerals
• For the weekend of 26/27 September
o Weddings can proceed as originally planned up to a limit of 50 guests. Donegal residents may attend weddings outside of Donegal and those outside of Donegal may travel to weddings in Donegal over this weekend.
o The Level 3 measures for funerals come into effect on Monday 28th.
• From Monday, 28st September
o Weddings in Donegal may proceed, but with a limit of 25 guests for ceremony and reception (irrespective of venue). It will not be possible for residents outside of Donegal to attend weddings in Donegal, nor will it be possible for those in Donegal to attend weddings in other areas of the country. Couples resident in Donegal with existing plans outside the county can travel to get married at another location.
• Visits to Long Term Residential Care facilities are suspended, with the exception of visits required for critical and compassionate circumstances.
• Public transport operates at 50% capacity.
• Non-contact training activities can continue in the outdoors and in pods of up to 15. There is an exemption to this for professional or elite athletes, for inter-county sports and for senior club championship training.
• No matches or other sporting events should take place, with the exception of professional, elite, inter county and senior club championship which should take place behind closed doors. Horse racing may continue, but behind closed doors.
• Nightclubs, Discos and Casinos will remain closed.
Travel for Work and Essential Purposes
o Travel to and from work, or for the purposes of work and where that work cannot be done from home
o To attend medical appointments and collect medicines and other health products
o For vital family reasons, such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, but excluding social family visits and
o For farming purposes i.e. food production and/or care of animals