NPHET recommends ‘Level 5’ restrictions for whole country

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has sent a letter to the government tonight (Sunday, October 4) recommending that the whole country be moved to ‘Level 5’ restrictions outlined in the Government’s ‘Living with Covid-19’ plan, RTÉ has reported.

It is not known whether the government will take this advice. The leaders of the three government parties – Fianna Fáil leader and Taoiseach Micheál Martin; Fine Gael leader and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar; and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan – are set to meet with NPHET tomorrow.

There are no particular recommendations relating to the agriculture sector for Level 5. Farming and agri-food production would remain ‘essential work’ and will likely be allowed continue as they had at the height of ‘lockdown’ when Covid-19 first struck the country.

At that time, livestock marts were either closed or operating very limited services. Since then, many marts have changed the way they operate to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, even after normal services resumed somewhat in June.

This includes online sales, which have increasingly become a feature of marts.

Level 5 restrictions will probably have an effect on agriculture-related events, with these restrictions stating that no organised indoor or outdoor gatherings should take place.

The restrictions also state that only ‘essential’ retail outlets should open. Retail outlets for agriculture and farming-related goods and services will likely be included in the ‘essential’ definition.

Level 5 restrictions, if they are implemented, would also see a return to the 5km limit of travel from your home, unless traveling for essential work that cannot be done at home.

Schools; creches; and places of higher and adult education would remain open, but with protective measures in place.

Other key restrictions that are possible under Level 5 include:

  • Public transport to be avoided except for essential workers or essential travel;
  • Those who are aged over 70 or are medically vulnerable would be asked to exercise judgement regarding the extent to which they engage with others and in activities outside the home (specific advice may be issued for these groups;
  • Visiting long-term residential care facilities (nursing and care homes) would be suspended, aside from critical and compassionate circumstances.