- 25 Sep 20
Donegal's Covid-19 restrictions come into effect from midnight tonight.
As Donegal prepares to move to Level 3 restrictions from midnight tonight, September 25, Altan's Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, a native of the Donegal Gaeltacht of Gaoth Dobhair, tells Hot Press that she is "not at all surprised".
The new measures in Donegal, which will be in place until October 16, were announced after the number of coronavirus cases in the county rose to 148.2 per 100,000 people over the past fortnight – the highest in the country.
"We are situated in a very vulnerable position," Ní Mhaonaigh tells us. "Most of the county skirts the border, where people can come and go as they please, even from Scotland and England and other jurisdictions where the rules are different. There are no controls at the border to check where people are travelling from."
As well as people traveling across the border with Northern Ireland, Ní Mhaonaigh finds that the reopening of schools "hasn't helped" matters. She also argues that Donegal has been "forgotten" by the Irish government.
"It is worrying, as no one knows when this is going to end and people are worried for their safety and also for their jobs," she says. "Donegal is definitely the forgotten county when it comes to governmental handouts, as it is one of the lowest socio-economic areas in the country. It is time for the government to show us that they care for a change and provide us with proper infrastructure and investment."
She goes on to note that there's a pervading sense of "fear and worry" in the county as it prepares to move to Level 3.
"I went to the shops earlier and they were very busy with people stocking up for the semi lockdown!" she reveals. "I know that Hiudái Beag's Bar in Bunbeg had their traditional music session last night in anticipation that restrictions would kick in at midnight on Thursday. I heard that a lot of younger people have been socialising as well. I feel that most people here have adhered to guidelines but there were a lot of social gatherings as well, and maybe people became complacent and too relaxed.
"If people were guided properly, as at the beginning of lockdown in March, the numbers would decrease," she continues. "It should be a black and white situation where the government should guide us clearly and without any exceptions to the rules."
As part of the new restrictions in Donegal, people are advised not to leave or enter the county unless for essential purposes, including work and education. People are also advised to work from home, unless "absolutely necessary".
Visitors to private homes should be limited to a maximum of six people from one other household, while no social or family gatherings should take place, apart from weddings and funerals.