The Government has decided today that, from midnight tomorrow, Friday September 25th, the county of Donegal will be placed on Level 3 under the Plan for Living with Covid-19.   This action is based on a review of the current public health advice and is in response to the deteriorating situation with the virus in Donegal. 

The rest of the country remains at Level 2 apart from Dublin which is also at Level 3

Donegal will be at Level 3 for a period of 3 weeks, until Friday 16th October, at which point the situation will be reviewed by the Government, based on the status of the virus and public health advice.

The Government has also announced a 30% top-up to the Restart Plus grant to help support those affected through the three-week period. This will be available immediately through the normal application process at an estimated additional cost of €2m to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.  In addition, applications from Donegal will be prioritised for the wide range of existing loan and voucher schemes available to assist businesses affected by Covid-19 through the July Jobs Stimulus and other Government initiatives.   

NPHET advice

The Government decision was guided by advice from NPHET and followed consideration at Cabinet.  The NPHET recommendations are targeted specifically at limiting social contacts and reducing congregation. 

Placing Donegal at Level 3 has the following implications for those living or working in Donegal:

  • Visitors to private homes and gardens should be limited to a maximum number of 6 from one other household. 
    • No social/family gatherings should take place, with exemptions to this for weddings and funerals (see below).    
  • No organised indoor gatherings should take place.  Organised outdoor gatherings are permitted, up to a maximum of 15 people.
  • People living in Donegal should remain in the county (i.e. they must not leave Donegal to travel either domestically or internationally), with the exception of those who must travel for work, education and other essential purposes.    
  • People living outside of Donegal should not travel to Donegal, with the exception of those who must travel for work, education and other essential purposes.  
  • People working in Donegal are asked to work from home unless absolutely necessary.   
  • Schools, Early Learning and Childcare services should remain open.  Adult and Higher Education Institutions should remain open, but are asked to review protective measures and take steps to limit congregation as much as possible.   
  • You are asked to walk or cycle where possible so that public transport is available for use by essential workers and for essential work only.
  • Sports
  • No matches or other sporting events should take place, with the exception of professional, elite, inter county and senior club championship – all to take place behind closed doors. 
  • Horse racing may continue, but behind closed doors. 
  • Non-contact training activities can continue in the outdoors and in pods of up to 15, with certain exemptions (see below).
  • Indoor training should be confined to individuals only and no classes are to take place. 

Business and Services

  • All retail shops and shopping centres may remain open.  All services such as hairdressers, beauticians, barbers, opticians etc. may remain open.
     
  • Libraries will be available for e-services and call and collect.  
     
  • All outdoor playgrounds, play areas, parks remain open. 
     
  • Gyms/leisure centres, swimming pools may remain open for individual use only and with protective measures. 
     
  • Hotels, Guesthouses and B&Bs may remain open, but with services limited to residents.
  • Restaurants and Cafes (including bars/pubs serving food/wet pubs) may remain open for take-away and delivery and outdoor dining/service to a maximum of 15 people.
  • Religious services will move online, though places of worship may remain open for private prayer.
  • All indoor museums, galleries, cinemas and other cultural attractions should close.

Over 70s & Medically Vulnerable

  • Those aged over 70 and the medically vulnerable are advised to continue to exercise personal judgement. 
     

    • It is recommended that they stay at home as much as possible, limit engagement to a very small network for short periods of time, while remaining physically distanced.   
    • When taking exercise outdoors, it is important to maintain 2 metres distance from others and wash hands on returning home.
    • It is recommended to shop during designated hours only, while wearing a face covering, and to avoid public transport.

Business Supports

While difficult to quantify exactly, these restrictions will have a significant impact on businesses and employment in Donegal. In recognition of the impact of these restrictions on businesses in Donegal, it is proposed to provide a similar package of measures as was provided in the case of Kildare, Offaly, Laois, and Dublin. Therefore, a 30% top-up to the Restart Plus grant will be provided to help support those affected through the three-week period. Businesses who have previously benefited from the Restart Grant will be eligible to re-apply for this top-up.  In addition, applications from Donegal will be prioritised for the wide range of existing loan and voucher schemes available to assist businesses affected by Covid-19 provided through the July Jobs Stimulus and other Government initiatives. 

Other employment and income supports, including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, as well as the full range of employment, training and support services for affected workers, will also continue to be made available. The final cost will depend on numbers of additional claimants.

NOTES:

 Weddings and Funerals

  • For the weekend of 26/27 September
    • Weddings can proceed as originally planned up to a limit of 50 guests.   Donegal residents may attend weddings outside of Donegal and those outside of Donegal may travel to weddings in Donegal over this weekend. 
    • The Level 3 measures for funerals come into effect on Monday 28th. 
  • From Monday, 28st September
    • Weddings in Donegal may proceed, but with a limit of 25 guests for ceremony and reception (irrespective of venue).  It will not be possible for residents outside of Donegal to attend weddings in Donegal, nor will it be possible for those in Donegal to attend weddings in other areas of the country. Couples resident in Donegal with existing plans outside the county can travel to get married at another location.
  • Visits to Long Term Residential Care facilities are suspended, with the exception of visits required for critical and compassionate circumstances.
  • Public transport operates at 50% capacity.
  • Non-contact training activities can continue in the outdoors and in pods of up to 15. There is an exemption to this for professional or elite athletes, for inter-county sports and for senior club championship training.
  • No matches or other sporting events should take place, with the exception of professional, elite, inter county and senior club championship which should take place behind closed doors.  Horse racing may continue, but behind closed doors.
  • Nightclubs, Discos and Casinos will remain closed.

Travel for Work and Essential Purposes

    • Travel to and from work, or for the purposes of work and where that work cannot be done from home
    • To attend medical appointments and collect medicines and other health products
    • For vital family reasons, such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, but excluding social family visits and
    • For farming purposes i.e. food production and/or care of animals

€2m Extra Grant Aid for Businesses Affected by Restrictions in Donegal

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar TD today (Thursday the 24th of September) announced that Donegal businesses affected by the decision to move to Phase 3 will receive additional government funding.  

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD said:

Today’s decision will come as a blow to the business owners of Donegal, their families and their staff, and especially for rural pubs which have only just opened the doors. I know this will feel like another set back after what has been a really tough year. This decision has been taken to halt the spread of the virus and protect our most vulnerable. I believe it will also be better for business in the long run as it will limit the damage of the virus on our communities.

Actions today include:

  • Topped up Restart Grant Plus

Donegal businesses impacted by 25% or more fall in turnover will now be entitled to a 30% top-up, bringing the new minimum for affected counties to €5,200 and the new maximum to €32,500. Those that applied and received a grant previously, can receive the top up of 30%.

  • Increased Agency Support

Applications from Donegal will be prioritised for the wide range of existing loan and voucher schemes available to assist businesses affected by Covid-19 through the July Jobs Stimulus and other Government initiatives. This includes the LEO Trading On-Line Vouchers, MicroFinance Ireland Covid-19 Loan Fund and access to liquidity and investment finance schemes

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD said:

As Minister for Enterprise, I am deeply aware of the profound impact these necessary restrictions are having on business. This additional funding will help Donegal businesses get through the next few weeks and prepare for re-opening after. We must all now double down on our efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

Notes:

More information on the business supports is available here.

There is an existing package in place to help businesses nationally re-open and stay open, through the July Stimulus. The government are:

  • Extending the wage subsidy scheme to the end of March 2021, supporting viable businesses and jobs, including new hires
  • Giving companies extra assistance to reopen and stay open through an enhanced Restart grant available to more firms
  • Providing more and cheaper loan finance through Microfinance Ireland and the Credit Guarantee Scheme
  • Providing funding to help businesses and get ready for Brexit
  • Exploiting opportunities in areas like Life Sciences and investing in decarbonisation and digitalisation
  • Putting in place a six month reduction in the VAT, going down from 23% to 21%
  • Providing more funding for the IDA to promote Ireland as a place for foreign direct investment
  • Supporting small businesses (under 10 employees), who are ineligible for other grants through the Micro-Enterprise Assistance Fund

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department has lead responsibility for Irish policy on global trade and inward investment and a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.

For further information, members of the media can contact Press Office, D/Business, Enterprise and Innovation, [email protected] or (01) 631-2200

If you no longer wish to receive emails from the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation Press Office, please notify us by email to [email protected]

A comprehensive listing of supports, grants, and advice available to businesses affected by COVID-19 is available at dbei.gov.ie/coronavirus.

Contact the Business Support Call Centre

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has established a Business Support Call Centre for information on the business supports available tobusinesses and enterprises affected by COVID-19. It can be reached at [email protected] or (01) 631 2002.

Placing Donegal at Level 3 has the following implications for those living or working in Donegal

In your home or garden, you can have a maximum of 6 visitors from 1 other household.

No social/family gatherings should take place, with exemptions to this for weddings and funerals (see below).

No organised indoor gatherings should take place. Organised outdoor gatherings are permitted, up to a maximum of 15 people.

People living in Donegal should remain in the county (that is, they must not leave Donegal to travel either domestically or internationally), with the exception of those who must travel for work, education and other essential purposes.

People living outside of Donegal should not travel to Donegal, with the exception of those who must travel for work, education and other essential purposes.

People working in Donegal are asked to work from home unless absolutely necessary.

Schools, Early Learning and Childcare services should remain open. Adult and Higher Education Institutions should remain open, but are asked to review protective measures and take steps to limit congregation as much as possible.

You are asked to walk or cycle where possible so that public transport is available for use by essential workers and for essential work only.

Social and family gatherings

In your home or garden

You can have a maximum of 6 visitors from 1 other household.

Other settings outside your home or garden

No social or family gatherings should take place in other settings.

Weddings

Up to 25 people can attend a wedding ceremony and reception.

For the weekend of 26/27 September:

  • weddings can proceed as originally planned up to a limit of 50 guests
  • Donegal residents may attend weddings outside of Donegal and those outside of Donegal may travel to weddings in Donegal over this weekend

From Monday 28 September:

  • weddings in Donegal may proceed, but with a limit of 25 guests for ceremony and reception (irrespective of venue)
  • it will not be possible for residents outside of Donegal to attend weddings in Donegal, nor will it be possible for those in Donegal to attend weddings in other areas of the country
  • couples resident in Donegal with existing plans outside the county can travel to get married at another location

Organised indoor gatherings

These are controlled environments with a named event organiser, owner or manager.

For example: business, training events, conferences, events in theatres and cinemas or other arts events (excluding sport).

No organised indoor gatherings should take place.

Organised outdoor gatherings

These are controlled environments with a named event organiser, owner or manager. For example: outdoor arts events, training events.

Gatherings of up to 15 people can take place.

Sports

Training

Outdoors: Non contact training only in pods of up to 15 (exemption for professional/elite/inter-county sports/senior club championship).

Indoors: Individual training only. No exercise or dance classes.

Matches and events

No matches or events to take place.

Exemption: professional/elite/inter-county/club championship/horse-racing can take place behind closed doors.

Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools

Gyms/leisure centres/swimming pools open with protective measures, for individual training only.

Religious services

Services move online. Places of worship remain open for private prayer.

Funerals

Up to 25 mourners can attend.

This measure comes into effect on Monday 28 September. Until then, a maximum of 50 mourners can attend.

Museums, galleries and other cultural attractions

All venues closed.

Libraries will be available for e-services and call and collect.

Bars, cafes and restaurants (including hotel restaurants and bars)

Can remain open for take-away and delivery and outdoor dining/service to a maximum of 15 people.

Wet pubs

Can remain open for take-away and delivery and outdoor dining/service to a maximum of 15 people.

Nightclubs, discos and casinos

Nightclubs, discos and casinos will remain closed.

Hotels and accommodation

Open but services limited to residents.

Retail and services (for example: hairdressers, beauticians, barbers)

There is specific guidance available for:

Work

Work from home unless absolutely necessary to attend in person.

Domestic travel

People living in Donegal should remain in the county (that is, they must not leave Donegal to travel either domestically or internationally), with the exception of those who must travel for work, education and other essential purposes.

People living outside of Donegal should not travel to Donegal, with the exception of those who must travel for work, education and other essential purposes.

Schools, early learning and childcare services, adult and higher education

Schools and creches are open with protective measures.

Further, higher and adult education to escalate all appropriate protective measures and limit congregation as far as possible.

Outdoor playgrounds, play areas and parks

All remain open with protective measures in place.

Transport

Walk or cycle where possible.

Public transport capacity will be limited to 50%.

Essential workers and essential purposes only.

Those aged over 70 and the medically vulnerable

Those aged 70 years and over and the medically vulnerable should exercise personal judgement.

  • it is recommended that they stay at home as much as possible, limit engagement to a very small network for short periods of time, while remaining physically distanced
  • when taking exercise outdoors, it is important to maintain 2 metres distance from others and wash hands on returning home
  • it is recommended to shop during designated hours only, while wearing a face covering, and to avoid public transport

Long-term residential care facilities (nursing and care homes)

Visits suspended, aside from critical and compassionate circumstances.


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