The Government could reduce the limit on people’s exercising distance from 5km to 2km if Level 5 restrictions do not lower the number of Covid-19 cases sufficiently, a Minister has said.
As the Irish Times reports, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan raised the possibility of the reduction as the latest figures show the number of people admitted to hospital with the virus is continuing to rise.
There were 673 patients in hospital being treated by the virus on Sunday morning with 75 admissions and 23 discharges from hospital over the previous 24 hours.
This is more than double the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 a week earlier. The daily rate of hospitalisations is the highest since the pandemic began in March.
There were 56 seriously ill patients in intensive care units on Saturday night with 10 new admissions and one discharge over the previous 24 hours.
Mr Ryan told Newstalk radio there were other measures that could be taken in addition to Level 5 restrictions such as reducing travel from 5km to 2km as happened during the first lockdown if infections did not decline.
“That is for a week or two’s time if the numbers are not starting to flatten off and then decrease,” the Minister said.
Currently, under Level 5 restrictions people are required to stay at home except for travel for work, education or other essential purposes, and will be permitted to take exercise within 5 km of home.
Mr Ryan said the Government had directed all non-essential hospital procedures to be postponed if hospitals reach capacity handling Covid-19 cases.
It comes as the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) warned hospitals were now under “extreme” pressure.
The union said its members were concerned by a “major increase in the number of patients presenting, along with high levels of staff out on Covid leave or for self-isolation”.
IMMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said “the progress we made on keeping case numbers down seems to be completely undone