BREAKING: Kildare schools WILL reopen, says Minister for Health, as he confirms Kildare lockdown extension

Tribute paid to efforts of Kildare people

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BREAKING: Kildare schools WILL reopen, says Minister for Health, as he confirms Kildare lockdown extension

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly confirming the Kildare lockdown extension

Kildare schools will reopen as planned, even as the country remains in an extended lockdown for a further two weeks.

Minister Stephen Donnelly confirmed the lockdown extension in a post-Cabinet briefing this evening. The National Public Health Emergency Team yesterday recommended that the restrictions introduced a fortnight ago in Kildare, Laois and Offaly, following a spike in the three counties, be extended in Kildare.

The Minister announced that restrictions in Laois and Offaly are being lifted immediately.

Confirming that Kildare schools would reopen as planned, he paid tribute to the hard work and preparations of principals and school staff and the Department of Education; and referred to the positive effect of schools on young people.

"The people of Kildare, Laois and Offaly have saved lives in their own communities," said Minister Donnelly. "We all owe them a debt of gratitude."

He said that the incidence of Covid-19 in Kildare has stabilised and is falling, but the number of cases in Kildare remains high. Nationally, the incidence of cases in the population is 27/100,000. In Kildare it is 200/100,000.

It was confirmed that increased testing and tracing will continue in Laois, Offaly and Kildare in the coming weeks.

A raft of new business support measures was this afternoon announced for companies in Kildare, affected by the extended lockdown, including a top-op on their Restart Grant entitlement and support and mentoring from the Kildare Local Enterprise Office.

Dr Ronan Glynn, acting Chief Medical Officer, said that cases of Covid-19 are widely distributed across County Kildare, and that there is no geographical region in the county that does not have cases.

He said that there is evidence of community transmission of coronavirus in Kildare, but at 16% of cases it is not out of step with the national rate of 20% of cases.

"The measures are working, but due to the overall volume of cases, more time is required," he said.

Dr Glynn acknowledged that there was understandable anger among members of the community, in the wake of revelations about the Oireachtas Golf Society event in Galway, but said "the virus couldn't care less about anger" as he urged people to observe restrictions to prevent Covid-19 spread.