Irish government clashes with scientists over national lockdown

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

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