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Coronavirus: Kildare lockdown to be lifted with immediate effect

The decision was made at a Cabinet meeting this afternoon.

Updated Aug 31st 2020, 3:59 PM

THE LOCKDOWN MEASURES in place in Co Kildare have been lifted, the government said today. 

The Cabinet agreed to lift the extra restrictions in place in Kildare following a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) today.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said on Twitter: “Today is a huge milestone. Evidence from Kildare, Laois and Offaly proves that localised measures do work. This knowledge will be a key part of our plans as we aim to reduce the spread of Covid-19 while re-opening our society and economy.”

In a statement, the government said the additional measures will be lifted “with immediate effect”.

The rolling five-day average in Kildare is 10.8 cases as of 29th August, the government said.

This compares to a five-day average of 22.2 cases in Kildare on 6 August. 

75 cases were notified in Kildare in the week to 29 August compared to 238 cases notified in the week to 8 August, 170 cases in the week to 15 August, and 159 cases in the week to 22 August. 

“As the epidemiological situation both nationally and in Kildare are broadly similar, there is no longer a rationale for a differentiated approach between Kildare and the rest of the country,” the statement said. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said on Twitter that this decision “was only possible because of the people of Kildare – their extra effort, their sacrifices and their patience”. 

“Numbers in Kildare now similar to rest of country. We must all stay vigilant,” he said. 

‘I know it was difficult’

Speaking at this evening’s Department of Health briefing, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn thanked the people of Kildare, as well as those living in Laois and Offaly. 

“It’s nice to be able to give some good news,” he told reporters. 

“This was the first time that we had to recommend measures on a regional basis like this,” Glynn said. “I know it was difficult, I can only begin to imagine the impact that it had on some communities and on businesses in particular – and in Kildare in particular – given the protracted nature of the measures.”

He said the willingness to adhere to the guidance has protected people in those counties and their families as well as preventing widespread community transmission and facilitating the reopening of schools.

“It’s a testament to people’s willingness to stick with this despite frustration, despite fatigue and I’m sure anger in many instances.”

The Acting CMO said the main learning from the local restrictions is that “those measures can work”. He pointed out that the restrictions were not as strong as some of the measures implemented early on in the national lockdown, but they still have a fast and noticeable impact.

“It’s heartening to see that, relatively speaking, a lower level of intervention can work and bring a situation like the one that emerged in Kildare, Laois and Offaly under control pretty quickly.”

‘Relief’

Last week, hopes of an early release were dashed for residents in the county when Dr Glynn said Covid-19 case numbers in Kildare had not stabilised sufficiently.

Localised restrictions in the county were extended for a fortnight after being first introduced on 7 August along with Laois and Offaly.

Laois and Offaly saw restrictions lifted, but in Kildare they were due to remain until 6 September before today’s announcement. 

Kildare North Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said today’s decision “will be met with relief by residents and the business community”. 

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“The people of Kildare have shown remarkable fortitude in the face of these restrictions,” Murphy said in a statement. 

“The severe impact these restrictions have had on the local economy cannot be overstated. I am again calling on the Taoiseach to visit Kildare to hear how businesses are struggling to survive and what additional financial supports are going to be needed.”

With reporting by Orla Dwyer and Michelle Hennessy.

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