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Coronavirus: Irish cabinet self-isolating over possible Covid case

1 week ago 6

Published9 minutes ago

image copyrightMerrionStreet.ie/Irish government news service

image captionHealth Minister Stephen Donnelly (right) reported feeling unwell after helping to present a new Covid-19 plan on Tuesday morning

The entire Irish cabinet has been told to self-isolate and the Dáil (Irish parliament) has been adjourned indefinitely after the country's health minister reported feeling unwell.

Stephen Donnelly has contacted his GP for a Covid-19 test, RTÉ reports.

The ceann comhairle (speaker) said that after "very serious information arising out of events today the cabinet must now self-isolate".

The Dáil will be adjourned until further notice.

Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport, Eamon Ryan, had already been isolating, as a member of his household awaits a test for Covid-19.

New Covid plan

It comes after the Irish government unveiled a five-stage plan on living with Covid-19 but also said Dublin faces stricter rules for the next few weeks because of the increase in infections in the city.

Pubs that do not serve food can reopen on 21 September, except in Dublin where they must stay closed

From midnight on Tuesday, household visits in the city will be limited to six people from one other household.

Elsewhere, the limit will remain at six visitors from up to three households.

The plan was outlined at a government news conference on Tuesday.

Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Micheál Martin said it is designed to provide a roadmap on how to live with Covid-19 for the next six months.

He said level five is the most restrictive and similar to what happened during the lockdown in March.

He said the country is currently at level two but because of the situation Dublin there were special modifications for the capital.

Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar told the news conference that virus cases have increased tenfold in Dublin over the last two months.

Plan overshadowed by growth in cases

Analysis by BBC News NI Dublin correspondent Shane Harrison

The Living with Covid-19 document is the Irish government's roadmap for the next six months on how to deal with the health, economic and social consequences of the coronavirus.

The three-party coalition that has been in power since the end of June has not had the best start - two agriculture ministers have resigned,

one because he broke his own government's Covid restrictions by attending a golf dinner.

So, Tuesday's publication is in some ways an attempt to build on recent Covid successes - reopening schools after the lockdown and dealing with calculated results in state examinations, albeit not without unhappiness on the part of some students.

But the publication of the five-stage plan has in many ways been overshadowed by the tenfold growth of virus case in Dublin over the past two months.

The Irish capital will not have to endure the lockdowns recently experiences in counties Kildare, Laois and Offaly, but pubs that do not serve food will not be able to reopen, unlike in the rest of the country.

The government always knew that closing down society and the economy because of the virus would be the easy part, compared with reopening when vested interests would be to the fore seeking special dispensation for their sector.

The next six months are likely to see further evidence of that.

Mr Martin also told the news conference that Ireland would sign up for the European Commission's travel plan.

That plan has yet to be unveiled but is known to include countries on green, amber and red lists.

He indicated that crowds of 200 people will be allowed attend sporting events where the capacity of a stadium is 5,000.

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