Comment: And yes, by 'lockdown', they mean house imprisonment every bit as stringent as what the whole country went through from March to May. Which means many more unnecessary deaths to come...

police ireland checkpoint covid-19

Irish police issue govt orders at checkpoints: 'Stay home, stop living, watch TV'.
More lockdowns of counties will be rolled out across the country in a bid to stamp out clusters of Covid-19 at their source.

Gardaí [police] are to mount checkpoints in Kildare, Offaly and Laois for the next two weeks in an attempt to keep 385,000 residents in effective lockdown.

Non-essential travel to and from the counties is now banned, while restaurants, pubs and other industries have been told they must close their doors.

The move was met with a backlash from some business representatives, who described it as a "knee-jerk reaction" that would cost jobs.

The Taoiseach said the "burden" of the new restrictions "falls heaviest" on people in the three counties, but warned "the message needs to be heard by everyone across the country".

"There is nothing inevitable about progress in keeping this disease under control," added Micheál Martin.

He called for "constant vigilance" and said he wants everyone to "continue putting the virus under pressure".

Mr Martin also said: "We are all responsible for each other. By acting responsibly and following the advice, each of us will protect all of us."

A senior government source said the local restrictions would obviously be applied to other counties if there were further regionalised spikes.

Acting chief medical officer Ronan Glynn admitted he was "not surprised that people are angry" but argued the situation "is really rapid, an awful lot can happen in 24 hours, never mind two weeks".

The warning came as the HSE announced 98 new cases and four deaths from the virus. The figures included 35 new cases in Kildare, 26 in Offaly and five in Laois.

However, CEO of County Kildare Chamber Alan Shine warned at least 1,200 people would be laid off due to a "needless, irresponsible and knee-jerk" Government reaction which has "failed business in the region". He said there had been "no engagement or consultation" from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), the HSE or the Government with local businesses before they imposed the lockdown.

Comment: Of course not. All lockdown measures everywhere have been completely illegal under the respective constitution of each jusrisdiction.

"We are at pains to understand why Nphet and the Government could not take the stance to order a comprehensive sweep of community testing in the areas affected in Kildare, Laois and Offaly.

"It's incredible there is no testing area in Kildare with a population of over 220,000 people." He said people with suspect cases were having to go to Dublin for testing, sometimes by public transport.

Fianna Fáil TD James Lawless was also critical of the lack of testing facilities in Kildare.

"I am aware of one family who had to travel to a testing facility at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, and others who were invited for testing but did not travel due to difficulties in getting to the stadium," he said.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the three counties were "paying the price" for a lack of inspections in meat factories and direct provision centres.

The decision to lock down the three counties followed a Nphet meeting that recommended the reintroduction of quarantine measures.

Dr Glynn told the Taoiseach and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly of their guidance. Mr Martin called Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan to tell them of the public health advice on the rise in cases.

A memo on the new restrictions was then agreed through a so-called 'incorporeal' Cabinet meeting which involves a government official ringing ministers asking them for approval.

The decision angered some ministers who insisted locking down three counties should have been decided after Cabinet discussion. "There really should have been a Cabinet debate on such a significant decision which is impacting on hundreds of thousands of people," a minister said.

Another senior Government source said: "The warning signs have been in place for over two weeks so why no action before now?"

"Why no measures for meat factories or direct provision centres," the source added.

As of today, there will be garda checkpoints monitoring citizens' movement around Kildare, Offaly and Laois to prevent people leaving the locked down counties.

Cafés, restaurants and those pubs operating as restaurants will have to close unless they are doing takeaway service or have outdoor dining.

Retail shops can also remain open, as can hairdressers and barbers. Indoor gatherings are to be reduced to a maximum of six people from no more than three households and outdoor gatherings limited to a maximum of 15 people.

Cinemas, theatres, museums, galleries, bingo halls, casinos, betting shops and other indoor recreational and cultural outlets will also be closed.

Gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools and sports clubs should close.

All sporting events have been banned but non-contact outdoor sports and training may continue subject to maximum of 15 people. Training for professional athletes involved in contact sport can continue.

Crèches can remain open and preparations for reopening schools can continue.

People will be told to restrict their movement within the county other than travelling to work, to medical appointments, or for vital family reason or for caring for an animal.

People can drive through the counties if they are going to another county.