Ireland to impose nationwide COVID-19 curbs on Monday

The Irish government rejected a recommendation by health chiefs two weeks ago to jump Level 5, the highest level of COVID-19 curbs, and instead tightened restrictions in a varied regional approach. (AFP)
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Updated 18 October 2020

Ireland to impose nationwide COVID-19 curbs on Monday

  • On Saturday, Ireland broke its record for the number of cases recorded in a single day for the fourth time in the space of a week

DUBLIN: Ireland will bring in “decisive” nationwide COVID-19 restrictions on Monday but will stop short of reintroducing the kind of lockdown imposed earlier this year, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said on Sunday.
The government rejected a recommendation by health chiefs two weeks ago to jump Level 5, the highest level of COVID-19 curbs, and instead tightened restrictions in a varied regional approach that Harris said was no longer sufficient.
On Saturday, Ireland broke its record for the number of cases recorded in a single day for the fourth time in the space of a week, bringing cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days to 232, the 12th highest rate among the 31 countries monitored by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
“The government will act tomorrow, the action will be decisive and it will be nationwide action,” Harris, who was the health minister during one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns from the end of March to mid-May, told national broadcaster RTE.
“Tomorrow we will have to bring in more restrictions. Level 3 has not worked ... I don’t want to be pedantic about the phrase lockdown but I don’t think that’s exactly where we’re going but there will certainly be more restrictions.”
The government moved three counties on its open border with Northern Ireland, which is harder hit by COVID-19, to Level 4 of its five-step framework on Wednesday and banned most visits to homes across the country. The other 23 counties are on Level 3, which bans all indoor restaurant dining.
Under Level 4, only essential retail can stay open, although the government has broadened that category since March. Under level 5, people would be asked to stay at home, other than to exercise within 5 km, and restaurants can only operate a take away and delivery service.
“In relation to businesses, we’re trying to get the balance right here. We want to keep as much open as we can but we can’t prolong the inevitable either ... What government is trying to do is try to find that landing spot,” Harris said.


Homesick Marawi residents yearn to rebuild lives as Philippines rebuilds city

Updated 24 min 56 sec ago

Homesick Marawi residents yearn to rebuild lives as Philippines rebuilds city

  • Displaced group leader urges govt. to expedite reconstruction work as majority “remain in cramped, temporary shelters”

MANILA: Displaced residents in Marawi’s ground zero, the scene of a five-month battle between Philippines forces and members of Daesh-inspired militant groups, said they couldn’t wait until 2022 “to start rebuilding their lives,” and renewed their appeal for the government to allow them to return home.

Drieza Liningding, Moro Consensus Group chair, told Arab News on Tuesday: “If we follow the (government’s) timeline, that means we’ll have to wait until 2022 ... The people are now helpless. 

“It has been three years already. We don’t even have access to our homes because we are not allowed to enter the area,” he added.

The Marawi siege, launched by the pro-Daesh Maute group, began on May 23, 2017, and lasted until October that year. More than 1,000 militants, government troops and civilians were killed, while the once-bustling city was flattened, displacing more than 100,000 residents.

The government has repeatedly assured residents of rehabilitation efforts in the war-torn city, including the construction of a permanent shelter for displaced residents from 24 villages in the most affected areas (MAA), which is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

Liningding, however, pointed out that while they were “not questioning” the government’s promise to complete the reconstruction of the city before the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, it was also a fact that a majority of Marawi residents “remain in cramped, squalid temporary shelters, while others were forced to stay with relatives or find a place elsewhere.”

Liningding reiterated the group’s demand for the government to speed up the process of their return, as well as provide compensation for the damage to their properties.

“The so-called ... Marawi Rise and Master Development Plan (is) incoherent and inappropriate for post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation because it focuses more on public infrastructure and government buildings that we lacked before the siege,” Liningding said.

“When you say rehabilitation or reconstruction, it should be restorative in nature for what used to be there, not to permanently bar the people from returning because of projects that are not actually needed,” he added, noting that the ongoing infrastructure projects impacted nearly 50 percent of houses in the MAA.

“What’s the use of barangay (village) complexes, parks, museums, cafeteria, guest houses, police stations and other projects for those who have lost them homes?” Liningding asked.

Duterte allotted 3.56 billion pesos ($73.38 million) for the reconstruction of Marawi earlier this year.

On Monday, in a televised address, he pledged to rebuild the city, despite the current hurdles.

“The money is there. Do not worry. We will continue to spend until such time that Marawi is rebuilt to its former glory,” he said.

Liningding, in response, said the president should not pass the blame to the displaced and helpless residents of Marawi‘s MAA.

“(Duterte) of all people should know that we have nothing to do with the delays and failures of Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) in the rehabilitation of Marawi,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, TBFM’s chairman, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario, said that war-torn Marawi would rise again as a “modern and vibrant Islamic City,” citing the various infrastructure projects in the pipeline.

Del Rosario has repeatedly insisted that the TFBM, along with its 56 member-agencies, is on schedule for the completion of projects aimed at restoring Marawi to its former glory by December 2021.

Construction of key infrastructure projects inside Marawi’s MAA was in full-swing until July after authorities eased restrictions which were imposed due to the coronavirus disease pandemic.