Border counties may face additional restrictions depending on the measures taken by the Northern Ireland Executive later on today and to tackle growing incidence rates, according to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.
is comments come as Northern Ireland is set to implement additional restrictions, with pubs and restaurants to close for four weeks, with the exception of takeaways and deliveries, while schools will close for two, one of which will cover the half-term Halloween break.
“We’ll hear what happens in Northern Ireland this morning and we’ll respond to that, see if we need to respond to it particularly in relation to the border counties,” he said on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
“Then Nphet will meet on Thursday and we’ll consider their advice in the days after that and make further decisions at that point,” he said.
When asked if it is possible that the level of restrictions will change in the border counties because of restrictions in Northern Ireland, he said it is possible.
“Yes, the main reasons why restrictions might be tightened in the border counties is not just what is happening in the North, it is the incidence in those counties, which is the highest in the country, particularly Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan.
“We will need to respond to what is happening in the North as best as we can, we try to coordinate and cooperate with Northern Ireland but as you know, the Northern Ireland Executive hasn’t agreed to an all-island approach,” added Mr Varadkar.
Meanwhile, earlier on the programme, Sinn Féin president Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said that Ireland will “pay the price” for not having an all-island approach in relation to virus restrictions.
“I don’t believe that we are there yet in terms of an all-island shared approach.
“I think we’ll pay the price, I think it is a grave error.”
“They are essentially one community, up along the border
Mc McDonald said she thinks it is necessary to close schools for two weeks in Northern Ireland because the situation with virus spread there is “grave” and “dangerous”.
“Unfortunately, and I say that with a heavy heart because I am extremely conscious of the fact that children in the North have been very much discommoded and disadvantaged by not being at school for long stretches.
“This is a very unfortunate situation but certainly yes, I do think that is one of the measures that is being discussed and debated in the north by the Executive,” she said.
Ms McDonald also said that the State is ten days behind Northern Ireland in virus transmission, which has seen over 10,000 cases from September 29 to October 12.
“The problem with virus transmission is not unique to the North.
“I understand that in terms of the south, as deep south as Cork, the numbers are climbing and worrying that we’re probably a week, or maybe ten days at most behind the North in terms of the aggression of the transmission of the virus.
“We have an issue across the island,” she added.