Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said Gardaí will be given additional funding to “step up enforcement” of Covid-19 regulations but stressed that personal responsibility is paramount to curb the rising Covid-19 case numbers.
“What we all need to do, each and every one of us, is take personal responsibility and the vast, vast, vast majority of people in this country, organisations in this country, business in this country have done that,” the Minister said at a press briefing this evening.
“On top of that additional funding for An Garda Síochána has been sanctioned for the Gardaí to step up enforcement and to have a higher presence. They have done a phenomenal job so far,” he continued.
The Cabinet today agreed that every county in Ireland will be moved to Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions with improved enforcement.
In doing so, the Government has rejected the National Public Health Emergency Team's (NPHET) recommendation to place the entire country under Level 5 restrictions.
Addressing the nation this evening, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Government's response had to be "effective and proportionate".
"We have had detailed discussions since receiving NPHET'S recommendation to move straight to a Level 5 lockdown.
"Central to our discussions has been looking at the wider implications of moving immediately to Level 5 rather than realising the full potential impact of lower level restrictions.
"It's important to understand that we are in a very different situation to last March," he said.
"Businesses are beginning to recover and vital public health services are still backlogged, severe restrictions now would have a very damaging impact, which those services and businesses may not be able to recover from.
"That said, the Government has decided to increase the level of controls in most of the country and to step up efforts to ensure compliance with guidelines," the Taoiseach continued.
Speaking this evening, the Health Minister said the decision to reject NPHET's recommendation to move to Level 5 has not damaged the relationship between Government and NPHET.
"We live in unprecedented times and the types of decisions Government is being asked to consider and the types of decisions being made we are all talking about now are unprecedented decisions.
"I would expect robust debate and interrogation. To not do so would be remiss.
"There has been, there will continue to be, robust engagement, but there is respect and there is a strong working relationship, there always has been and that will continue," he said.
Level 3 restrictions will come into effect at midnight tomorrow and will be in place for three weeks.