| 8°C Belfast

Lockdown in Co Kildare lifted following weeks of restrictions

The decision to lift the restrictions was made following a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team.

The lockdown in Co Kildare has been lifted with immediate effect, the Government has confirmed.

The Government introduced public health measures in the county on August 7 following outbreaks of Covid-19 cases.

In a statement, the Government said that public health measures in the county will be aligned with those introduced nationally on August 18.

It comes weeks after special restrictions in Laois and Offaly were lifted.

The decision to lift the restrictions was made following a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) earlier today.

NPHET reviewed the epidemiological situation in Kildare and confirmed that it continues to improve and is now broadly similar to that across the country.

In a statement, the Government said: “The rolling five-day average in Kildare is 10.8 cases as of August 29. This compares to a five-day average of 22.2 cases in Kildare on August 6. 75 cases were notified in Kildare in the week to August 29.

“This compares to 238 cases notified in the week to August 8, 170 cases in the week to August 15, and 159 cases in the week to August 22.

“The number of cases attributable to community transmission or possible community transmission in Kildare over the past 14 days has been 36%.

“Nationally, the community transmission/possible community transmission rate also stands at 36%.

“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 Government recognises the very significant impact of the measures on individuals, communities and businesses in Kildare over the past three weeks, and acknowledges that the improved situation has been due to the willingness of everyone to adhere to the public health guidance and measures implemented.

“While the situation in Kildare has improved, the national situation remains uncertain and the Government continues to stress the importance of adhering to the public health advice and guidance to stop the spread of the virus.”

Several meat plants in the midlands saw outbreaks of Covid-19 earlier this summer.

The decision was welcomed by business owners in Kildare.

Barry McKnight, who owns the J-One cafe in Athy, said he will spend Monday night preparing to reopen tomorrow.

The business owner has been providing a takeaway service only since the restrictions were brought in.

“We closed the cafe on March 24 and then reopened fully in July but had to close it to takeaways only when the local lockdown happened,” he said.

“We plan to fully reopen with social distancing tomorrow and although we hoped the lockdown would end last Friday it was a nice surprise to find out tonight.

“We are doing less than half of our normal business so it will be good to get our customers back in again.”

Mr McKnight, who runs the business with his wife Mary, had to let staff go.

“Two of the staff are coming back tomorrow and they are happy about that,” he added.

“We’ve done as best we can with social distancing for us and our customers in terms of hygiene. If there was another local down it wouldn’t be good.

“We are looking forward to getting people back in tomorrow.”

Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn thanked the people of Kildare, Laois and Offaly for adhering to the measures.

“I know it was difficult, I can only begin to imagine the impact that it had on some communities and on businesses, in Kildare in particular,” he said.

“People’s willingness to buy into the measures and people’s willingness to adhere to the guidance over the last number of weeks has protected them, it has protected their families, it has prevented widespread community transmission and allowed schools to reopen as normal in Kildare and in the other two counties.

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

PA