What is a 'circuit breaker' lockdown? Varadkar says it "can't be ruled" out in Ireland

By James Fenton

October 7, 2020 at 2:53pm

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Leo Varadkar hasn't ruled out the possibility of a 'circuit breaker' lockdown coming into place in Ireland in a bid to reduce Covid-19 cases.

NPHET reportedly proposed a circuit breaker at Monday's meeting with the Government ahead of the confirmation of nationwide level 3 restrictions.  Sources at the meeting have suggested that Varadkar was uncomfortable about the fact that such a move was not included in the Living with Covid plan and felt that its impact had not been thought through. However, he did not rule out the possibility of a circuit breaker coming into effect.

But what is a circuit breaker and what would it involve? With most of Ireland entering risk level 3 of Covid-19 restrictions this week, the last thing we want to think about is another form of lockdown. However, given that the Tánaiste has hinted that it might be on the cards, it might be good to find out what it would involve.

What is a circuit breaker lockdown?

A circuit breaker lockdown is a 'short and sharp' lockdown of around three to four weeks that would be aimed towards a significant drop in Covid-19 cases nationwide.

What would it involve?

A circuit breaker could see pubs and restaurants closed and a ban on socialising between households. All non-essential workplaces would be closed and public transport use would be prohibited except for essential purposes. There would also be some restrictions imposed on certain public spaces.

Has it worked elsewhere?

A temporary lockdown in New Zealand was seen as a circuit breaker by some and it was also used in Singapore earlier this year. Restrictions there began to ease after around a month when community cases decreased. Northern Ireland and Scotland are also considering moving towards a circuit breaker-type lockdown.

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