DUBLIN, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin on Friday evening declared a Level 3 response for the country's capital Dublin in order to suppress the rapid rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the city over the past few weeks.
The Level 3 response, a new mechanism introduced by the Irish government to take corresponding restrictive measures according to the different risk levels of the pandemic in the country, will take effect from midnight Friday and remain in place for three weeks until Oct. 9.
Under the Level 3 response, people living in or outside of Dublin are not permitted to leave or travel to the city with the exception of those who must travel for work, education and other essential purposes.
All indoor museums, galleries, cinemas and other cultural attractions will be closed. Libraries will be available only for e-services and collection of books shall be made through phone calls in advance.
Restaurants and cafes, including pubs and bars serving food, are not allowed to provide dine-in services, but they can provide outdoor dining for a maximum of 15 people in addition to takeaway and delivery services. Wet bars, referring to those not serving food, shall remain closed beyond Sept. 21, a time when such bars in other parts of the country are allowed to reopen for the first time after they were shut down since mid-March.
Hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs may remain open, but with services limited to residents.
Public transport is available for use by essential workers and for essential work only. People working in Dublin are asked to work from home unless absolutely necessary.
Matches or other sporting events will be banned with very few exceptions.
No organized indoor gatherings will be allowed, but outdoor organized gatherings are permitted, up to a maximum of 15 people.
No social or family gatherings should take place other than weddings and funerals, but the number of people at both will be restricted to 25 starting from next Monday.
Visitors to private homes, including gardens, will be permitted from one other household only, and involve no more than six people including six.
Earlier this week, the Irish government unveiled a new medium-term plan to cope with the pandemic in the country for the next six to nine months, under which the risk of the pandemic in the country is rated at five levels with Level 1 being the lowest and having the least amount of restrictive measures in place and Level 5 being the highest and having the most restrictions in place.
Dublin is the first region rated at Level 3 since the introduction of the new system with the rest of Ireland currently being at Level 2.
Dublin has seen a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Of all the 2,626 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Ireland over the last 12 days, 1,445 cases, or over 55 percent, came from Dublin, according to the data from the Irish Department of Health.
"Without further urgent and decisive action, there is a very real threat that Dublin could return to the worst days of this crisis," said Martin while announcing the decision.
Ireland reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 at the end of February. So far there are altogether 32,271 confirmed cases in the country with 1,792 fatalities.