The Government has confirmed that further Covid-19 restrictions are to be imposed on Donegal.

The county is to move to Level 3 restrictions from midnight tomorrow.

The measures will be in place for three weeks until 16 October.

The Cabinet made the decision this evening arising from a National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommendation.

42 of the 324 new cases of Covid-19 notified to the Department of Health today are in Donegal.

The 14-day incidence of the disease in the county rose again today and is now at 122.5 confirmed cases per 100,000 people.

This is up from 106.2 yesterday, the sharpest jump recorded by any county in the country.

Two and a half weeks ago the 14-day incidence rate for Donegal was below 20, meaning there has been a six-fold increase in the number of active or open infections in 16 days.

The restrictions in Donegal will differ from Dublin in one area.

Pubs that do not serve food will be allowed to stay open but will only be allowed to serve a maximum of 15 people and they must be seated outdoors.

There will be a grace period for weddings in Donegal and they can go ahead as planned this weekend but from Monday the numbers in attendance will be limited to 25.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Government had "no choice other than to act and to act decisively" as the seven-day incidence rate of the virus in Donegal is double that of any other county outside Dublin.

He described the data as "very worrying".

Mr Martin said it was not the fault of any one individual or community and that no stigma could be attached to being a "victim" of the virus.

"This virus doesn't care who you are or where you are from, it just wants to spread", he said.

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Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said the advice to move Donegal to Level 3 restrictions was based on the "rapidity" with which the situation had deteriorated there.

The Taoiseach said the National Public Health Emergency Team is monitoring the situation in a number of counties including Louth, Waterford, Wicklow, Kildare, Cork and Galway.

He said the daily case numbers, incidence rates, hospital and intensive care admissions, and deaths are continuing to rise.

Mr Martin said that while this evening's announcement relates to Donegal, "there is every chance we could have similar announcements in other areas".

He added that each of us needs to reflect on that prospect and make decisions in our own lives on whether or not "we give the virus space to grow".

The Taoiseach said there is a high virus rate in Derry and the situation there "is a cause for concern".

He said he would speak to Northern Ireland's First and Deputy First Ministers Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill.

Dr Glynn said he understood how disappointing the announcement is for the people of Donegal but the decision was made in an effort to protect people and prevent a further deterioration of the situation there.

He said that broadly the situation around the country is continuing to "evolve and deteriorate".

Dr Glynn added that Covid-19 is spreading in families and extended families.

He said people are "dropping their guard because they know each other".

He said the situation in Louth and Waterford appears to be stabilising but Galway, Cork and Kildare are "worrying".

"Limit the size of your social network and reduce your social contacts over the coming days and weeks", Dr Glynn added.

Mr Martin said that additional supports would be put in place for businesses affected by the decision.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland has called for an emergency meeting with Mr Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, saying there is "effectively a hospitality lockdown in two counties".


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Minister for Agriculture and Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal, Charlie McConalogue, said putting his county on Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions was "a very difficult but necessary decision" by Cabinet.

He said he understood this would be "difficult for people across Donegal" but added that "our people's health has to come first."

Minister McConalogue said: "I would ask everyone to do their best to follow guidelines, restrict contacts in the time ahead to get the numbers  down, and ... return to phase two".

Sinn Féin's finance spokesperson, Donegal TD Pearse Doherty, said the restrictions will have a serious impact on the people of Donegal who "will need to dig deep" and follow the public health advice.

Deputy Doherty said there are many people in Donegal who will have no work to go to tomorrow and who have bills and mortgages to pay in the same week the Government cut the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. He said this cut needs to be reversed.

Fine Gael TD for Donegal Joe McHugh said it was "disappointing" that the level of Covid-19 infections in the county is "out of hand" and the Cabinet has given it a Level 3 designation.

However, he said that if NPHET believes the figures are too high, then "we have to be concerned" for the vulnerable people.

He said the people of Donegal would now have to "roll up their sleeves" and get the county back to a Level 2 status.

Independent Donegal TD Thomas Pringle said the imposition of the new restrictions was a "very disappointing" move but was in many ways expected.

He said it is now up to the people in the county to "pull together" and return Donegal to Level 2 as soon as possible.