Ireland Braces for Third Lockdown to Avoid ‘Unimaginable’ Spread

Ireland will enter lockdown for a third time, as the coronavirus spread threatens to reach what health authorities describe as “unimaginable” levels.

The government will close non-essential stores, further limit travel and delay school reopening, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said in an televised national address. Gyms, golf courses and tennis clubs will also close. The measures will last for at least one month, as a new strain of the virus proves more dangerous than earlier waves.

Ireland Braces for Third Lockdown to Avoid ‘Unimaginable’ Spread

“With the disease spreading much faster, the threat of our health system being overwhelmed is obvious,” Martin said.

Bars, restaurants and personal services such as hairdressing have already been halted, after the relaxation of a lockdown in early December helped spur a surge in infections. Like other nations across Europe, Ireland is grappling with a revival in the virus as it awaits the roll-out of a vaccine. New infections hit a new record over Christmas, and the 14 day incidence of cases per 100,000 people has tripled over the past three months.

More than 1,700 new cases were reported on Wednesday.

“We must take action immediately to prevent an almost unimaginable scenario, where case numbers in seven to 10 days time are twice what they are today,” Philip Nolan, head of the emergency taskforce’s modeling group, said.

As part of the measures, a 5 kilometer (3.1 mile) limit on travel from home will be reimposed, while a ban on household visits was brought forward.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.