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Level 5 is too far - Ring

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WEEK TO WEEK Michael Ring does not support moving to Level 5 restrictions. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

No basis for severe restrictions in Mayo, says Michael Ring

Edwin McGreal

The entire country moving to Level 5 restrictions would be too ‘drastic’ a move, according to Mayo Fine Gael TD Michael Ring.
The former minister says such restrictions would be especially hard to justify in Mayo, due to the relatively low number of cases here in recent weeks.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommended on Sunday the entire country be placed under the highest Covid-19 restrictions, Level 5.
However, it was expected that Cabinet would last night (Monday) approve moving every county to Level 3 restrictions. Currently Dublin and Donegal are on Level 3 with 24 other counties on Level 2.
“How can you close down a county like Mayo that has, in the last 14 days, had the lowest Covid incidence in Ireland and put them under the highest level of close down again? I don’t think people can take that now,” Deputy Ring told The Mayo News yesterday.
He argued that there needs to be consideration given to other health issues as well as to the economy in decisions that are taken.
“At the moment they are talking about one pandemic. What about the people with mental health issues? What about people with other issues that have been unable to get treatment?
“I can tell you people are really feeling the pressure. We see it with the amount of people dying from suicide in Galway and elsewhere. The figures are there to prove it. People are feeling it and are really down. We’re going to be dealing with a lot of other problems in the coming months if we don’t continue with some form of normality.
“Let’s call a spade a spade, there’s lots of jobs that have been lost. There’s people who have lost their jobs, their livelihoods, their living. Some of them did not open since March and won’t be opening. Others came back and if they’ve to close again, their livelihoods will be gone and their businesses would be gone and there would be no hope for a lot of them,” he said.
He said the NPHET recommendation was a ‘catch 22’ situation for Government but argued people he had met were not in support of moving to Level 5 restrictions.

Happy medium?
“The happy medium is we need to calm. We need to do this on a week to week basis. I wouldn’t take a drastic action by closing down the country again. I would do what they have been doing, close down counties that they need to and they can look at this in a few weeks time and see what’s happening.
“We have to think at people’s other health problems and not look at it in isolation.
“The basis of closing down counties is a good idea. There were six cases in Mayo yesterday (Sunday). If you have a couple of hundred cases some place else, how can you justify closing down a county with six cases? It’s a drastic move.”
He added he has been ‘inundated’ with representations from people who have had medical appointments and procedures delayed because of Covid-19 and also criticised the frequency with which the case numbers are reported.
If the Level 3 restrictions are approved by Cabinet, it will be the first time the Government has rejected significant public health advice from NPHET.
It is understood that the decision to move the whole country to Level 3 restrictions would take effect from midnight tonight (Tuesday), if approved by Cabinet.
NPHET had recommended placing the entire country on Level 5 restrictions – the highest level in the ‘Living with Covid-19 Plan’.
Level 5 would see all but essential retail outlets closed, social gatherings would not be permitted, save for six people at a wedding and people would only be allowed to exercise within 5km of their homes.
The recommendation to move to Level 5 follows what health officials called a significant escalation in the profile of the virus in Ireland over the last week.
However, the NPHET recommendation is somewhat at odds with a tweet yesterday morning (Monday) by HSE CEO Paul Reid who said that while there are concerns over the trends in the rise of Covid-19 cases, the impact of severe restrictions on people’s mental health as well as the economy need to be considered.