Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that "the measures are working, but they need more time" in Co Kildare.
Ireland's Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced that the restrictions placed upon Co Kildare on August 7 will be extended for another two weeks, while the restrictions placed upon Cos Laois and Offaly have been lifted effective immediately.
The three counties were placed under restrictions following "localized outbreaks" of coronavirus in that region of the country. Later, on August 18, the rest of the Republic of Ireland was put on a different set of modified restrictions that are still in effect through at least September 13.
Minister Donnelly said during a government press briefing on Friday, August 21: “Over the past week, the number of new COVID cases in Laois and Offaly has fallen. I’m glad to be able to announce the lifting of restrictions for Laois and Offaly effectively immediately.
“The measures brought in for the rest of Ireland earlier this week now apply in Laois and Offaly.
“Kildare has also seen an improvement. In recent days, the number of new cases has stabilized and is falling. Without this progress, many more people right across Kildare would now be infected, some would be very seriously ill. Nursing homes would have been far more exposed.
“The number of cases in Kildare is, nonetheless, still high. The total number over the past two weeks detected in Ireland per 100,00 population is 27. For Kildare, it’s nearly 200.
“In Kildare, the number of new cases per day at 40 is about twice as high as it was two weeks ago.
“The measures are working, but they need more time. And for this reason, the measures in Kildare are being extended for a further two weeks.”
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly says Covid-19 restrictions in place for Laois and Offaly are lifted with immediate effect, however restrictions will remain in place for Kildare for another two weeks | Live updates: https://t.co/wxoaeleJ78 pic.twitter.com/9WaPjlJnSH— RTÉ News (@rtenews) August 21, 2020
Despite the lockdown being extended for two weeks in Co Kildare, schools in the county are set to open as originally scheduled: “Schools in Kildare will reopen as planned. The Department of Education and Minister Foley have put huge work into ensuring this can happen, together with teachers and principals across the county.
“The advice from public health doctors is very clear on schools - they must reopen. There is a lot of evidence about the positive impact of schools on children’s’ development, mental health, and education.
“Additional health measures, including increased testing and tracing will remain in place in Laois, Offaly, and Kildare as we continue in our work to test, trace, and stop the spread of COVID-19.
“I can also confirm that Kildare is getting a package of extra supports for businesses. This includes a further 20 percent top-up to the restart plus grant for Kildare businesses, the equivalent to a 40 percent uplift overall. That brings the new minimum grant to 5,600 E to the maximum grant to 35k E.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly says schools in Kildare will reopen as planned. He adds that the county will also receive an extra package of supports for businesses | Live updates: https://t.co/wxoaeleJ78 pic.twitter.com/fEkVZAdnIe— RTÉ News (@rtenews) August 21, 2020
Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, acknowledged in a statement on Twitter that the news would be “disappointing.”
In a string of tweets on August 21, Varadkar wrote: “I realise how disappointing today’s news will be for the people of Kildare. It has been a devastating few months for business owners, their staff, and families. I recognise that and we are redoubling our efforts to help businesses.
I realise how disappointing today’s news will be for the people of Kildare. It has been a devastating few months for business owners, their staff and families. I recognise that and we are redoubling our efforts to help businesses.— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) August 21, 2020
Varadkar continued: “We are topping up the Restart Grant Plus further for Kildare businesses. Kildare businesses will receive a 40% uplift overall, bringing the new minimum grant to €5,600 and the maximum grant to €35,000.
“@LEO_Kildare [Local Enterprise Office, Kildare] will step up assistance to impacted businesses. One to one specialist expertise and mentoring will be provided, helping business reassess their financial plans. A virtual ‘Sustaining Business’ open day will be held early next week.
“Marketing grants will be extended to help businesses to get their message out that they are open for business. Up to €2,500 is available. A publicity campaign will be run locally to ensure businesses are aware of all the funding options available
“Applications from Kildare for all existing schemes will continue to be prioritised.”