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Ireland prepared on Wednesday to begin a second nationwide coronavirus lockdown, with fears the new six-week hiatus will inflict a heavier blow than the last.

“It is devastating to see us locked up again … during our busiest Christmas lineup,” antique jeweler John Farrington told AFP on Tuesday.

“There are a lot of people out there with that second shutdown (who) are going to have a really, really hard time getting through.”

Non-essential stores like Farrington’s shop in central Dublin, shimmering with vintage trinkets, will have to close on Thursday.

All citizens are asked to stay at home with a strict travel limit of five kilometers, as Ireland is the first EU country to be completely banned again.

Meanwhile, bars and restaurants are only available for take-out and the inter-household ban has also been extended.

Prime Minister Micheal Martin announced the new measures on Monday evening but, unlike the previous lockdown in March, promised to keep schools open.

“If we work hard together in the next six weeks, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way,” he said in a national address to the country of five million people.

The Irish capital was buzzing on Tuesday and Wednesday as the virus death toll reached 1,865.

“Halloween is like our Christmas”

Shay Howlin’s “Fun Place” joke and costume store made a big deal on Tuesday as shoppers prepared to celebrate Halloween in lockdown.

Inside, two employees dwarfed by shelves of horror movie masks were desperate for werewolf claws, ninja swords, and power ranger outfits.

“Halloween is like Christmas,” Howlin explained. “So we’re closed for the ten busiest days of Halloween.”

He said he was “devastated” by the new lockdown, which he believes is “completely unnecessary”.

“I was hoping that maybe common sense would prevail because we think retail is a very safe environment,” he said.

The unemployment rate in Ireland hit a record 28.2 percent during the previous lockdown.

This time around, the coalition government has increased support for “pandemic unemployment benefits” and a wage subsidy system to keep employers connected to staff.

Last week the republic published a record budget of 17.75 billion euros to finance emergency measures against viruses.

Meanwhile, RTE reported on Wednesday that the Irish Cabinet had imposed green penalties on those violating the new lockdown.

The state broadcaster agreed to submit laws that provide for local fines of up to 500 euros for violating restrictions and up to 1,000 euros for hosting house parties.

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© 2020 AFP

Quote: Ireland was steeled to begin the second virus lockdown (2020, October 21st) and accessed from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-10-ireland-steeled-virus-lockdown.html on October 21, 2020

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