Ireland’s government has clashed with top scientific advisers after rejecting their call for a new national lockdown to tackle surging coronavirus infections.
The request on Sunday night to place the entire country under the most severe restrictions came only three days after public health officials said there was no need for new national measures.
The weekend move blindsided Micheál Martin’s government, provoking an angry response from ministers. Another comprehensive lockdown would shut large parts of an economy that is still struggling after the spring shutdown in which 600,000 jobs were lost.
After fraught talks with health officials and an emergency cabinet meeting, the prime minister gave a televised speech on Monday night to impose new hospitality sector restrictions that stopped well short of a national lockdown. Police overtime has also been increased to step up enforcement of the current restrictions.
The decision to defy health advice is the first big
The Irish government has rejected a recommendation to return the country to a full lockdown in the first clash with health chiefs since the Covid outbreak began.
The surprise recommendation by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) late on Sunday to impose the highest of five levels of restrictions possible with immediate effect had led to sharp criticism from some of the country’s most senior politicians, including the former taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
While the rising spread of the virus is causing alarm and has led to partial lockdowns in several counties, most of the country is still on level 2 restrictions, involving fewer limits to social and economic activity.
Ministers faced opposition from politicians and business to what would have amounted to Europe’s first major second-wave national lockdown.
On Monday night, the cabinet opted to move the country to level
An initiative from Germany’s Social Democrat labour minister to give people the right to work from home is facing opposition from chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and business groups, though a survey shows most workers like the idea.
The coronavirus pandemic has interrupted work flows in many companies in Europe’s largest economy, accelerating a trend to work partly from home and speeding up the digitisation of business organisation and communication.
But it has also created new problems such as working longer hours and pushing up stress levels, especially among parents juggling childcare and working from home.
Hubertus Heil from the co-governing, centre-left SPD told Deutschlandfunk radio on Monday that his draft law would give employees the right to work from home or somewhere else at least 24 days per year if the profession and work flows allow.
With the draft law, Heil wants to increase job satisfaction among employees and avoid
Ministerial resignations, internal party squabbles, a global pandemic, and a major national scandal—no government would choose to face these obstacles at the beginning of its first term in office. Yet this summer, that was the unfortunate fate of Ireland’s new coalition administration—the first ever to bring the rival parties of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael together, along with the Green Party. For a time, it seemed as though one of the most remarkable and unconventional political alliances in Irish history would also be one of its most short-lived. “They had a very rocky start, to say the least,” said Mary C. Murphy, a senior lecturer in government and politics at University College Cork. “It’s all been quite unprecedented.”
Now, however, the return of an external threat—Brexit—may save the alliance from an untimely end. On Sept. 9, the British government abruptly sent Brexit talks into crisis by introducing new legislation that