Dublin likely to move to Level 3 from weekend as Government to hold two special meetings

The Government has decided to hold two special meetings on Friday triggering the likelihood that Dublin will be elevated to Level 3 of the Covid-19 alert plan by the weekend.

According to reliable sources, the Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19, chaired by Taoiseach Micheál Martin will meet on Friday to discuss the latest report from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on the situation, nationally but particularly in the capital.

If the NPHET conclusions are negative, a full incorporeal Cabinet meeting will be held on Friday afternoon to place Dublin on level three of the five-level plan.

“If the numbers continue as they have been, this is only going one way,” said a Government source.

NPHET will hold its weekly meeting on Thursday to discuss the latest data and evidence of the prevalence of the virus in Ireland, and suggest measures to stem or curb its spread.

If it finds that infections in Dublin have not stabilised and further action is required, preparations will be made for an incorporeal Cabinet meeting on Friday to give effect to its findings.

That could mean that Dublin and its population of 1.4 million would be subject to tighter regulations that the other 25 counties. They include a ban on social or family gatherings indoors or oudoors, additional restrictions on indoor dining, as well as people being told not to travel outside the county. No matches or events will be allowed and no spectators allowed at any games (such as elite GAA and soccer games) that do take place.

As happened with Dublin this week, a decision may be taken to modify some of the more severe restrictions.

It is not known if the new oversight group, chaired by Government secretary general Martin Fraser, will meet to discuss NPHET’s findings as laid out in the new medium-term plan. It is understood that it may take several weeks before its membership and terms are concluded.

Earlier Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said there is a “strong” and “very real” possibility that Dublin will be moved to level three in the Government’s plans for coping with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of the 254 more cases confirmed on Wednesday by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), 136 are in Dublin.

“I am more concerned than at any point in time since late April,” chair of NPHET’s epidemiological modelling advisory group, Prof Philip Nolan told a press briefing on Wednesday.