COVID-19 sees driving tests suspended and council operated pools and leisure centres close

In our response to the rapidly evolving situation around COVID-19, Mayo County Council would like to inform the public that all swimming pools/leisure centres operated by Mayo County Council will close to the public effective of close of business today.

The locations are

o Leisure Complex at Lough Lannagh,

o Westport Leisure Park,

o Ballina Swimming Pool and Leisure Facility

o Charlestown Swimming Pool.

In a statement the council said: "All libraries, art centres, museums and community facilities operated by Mayo County Council remain closed to the public as announced yesterday afternoon.

"While the day-to-day running of all other services of Mayo County Council remains unaffected at this time, we are encouraging the public, where possible, to engage in any required business with us over the phone or online if possible, so as to avoid coming into public office spaces.

"Our management team continue to meet daily on the issue of COVID-19 to monitor the situation and react as appropriate to the advice from the HSE and the National Management Body.

"We continue to work diligently to put measures in place, which will allow for contingency, should our level of service be affected in the days and weeks ahead. We endeavour to keep the public updated with any disruption to our services through local media and the our media channels: @Mayodotie @MayoCoCo

"We would encourage the public to conscientiously follow the guidance issued by our health professionals in relation to COVID-19"

RSA suspends driving test service until March 29

Following the Government decision to introduce measures to delay the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19 ) the Road Safety Authority (RSA ) sought and has received advice from the public health authorities who are managing this public health crisis.

Based on that advice they are suspending all driving tests following the conclusion of the last test today Friday, March 13. The suspension of driving tests will run until March 29 and this will be kept under review.

 In a statement the RSA said: "We understand that this will cause inconvenience to our customers, but it is the correct measure to take given the public health advice concerning social distancing and given the personal nature of the driver testing service. RSA driver testers are in are close proximity to members of the public, in a confined space, for up to 40 minutes on each driving test.

"Those who have a driving test scheduled during this period will have the test rescheduled free of charge and we will be directly in contact with candidates in the coming days. Updates around the re-starting of driving tests will be published on rsa.ie and RSA social media.

 "For those who wish to make a normal application for a driving test please be advised we are continuing to receive and process applications as usual. However, appointments will not be scheduled in such cases until the driver testing service resumes.

 "Where there are exceptional circumstances eg. emergency and essential service drivers, needing a driving test, we will make all reasonable efforts to accommodate these customers."

Statement from Association of Catholic Priests on Covid-19

Given the ongoing Covid-19 situation the Association of Catholic Priests supports the measures taken in relation to this unprecedented crisis facing the country that “all Masses with congregations in parishes in the Archdiocese of Tuam should be cancelled.” (Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary )

The ACP also understands that many other dioceses are following suit. Congregations should consult their parish website about cancelled Masses. Webcams are available on these websites: www.churchservices.tv or  www.mcnmedia.tv Catholics reverence the sanctity of life and these measures are aimed at protecting lives. We also have a duty to ensure that nobody, especially the elderly, feels isolated, frightened or forgotten.

These pastoral decisions, discerned in the midst of complicated times, are designed to help save lives.

The ACP and its members will continue to pray for a return to health for those who are affected, healthcare staff and all in leadership positions. We also commend to God those who have died.

An Garda Síochána announces measures in relation to Delay Phase of COVID-19

Following the Government’s announcement yesterday in relation to measures to delay COVID-19, An Garda Síochána is putting in place a number of measures to maximise our operational availability and support other vital public services including:

- A contingency roster will go into effect from Monday March 16.

- Annual leave for personnel will be restricted to no more than five per cent of a Divisional/Bureau workforce at any given time with effect from  March 13.

 - Approximately 325 Garda students in the Garda College will be attested as Garda members next week and allocated to Garda stations nationally in the coming weeks (approximately 200 from one class, and 125 from the next class )

- Garda members working as tutors/instructors in the Garda College will be deployed to operational duties or essential training services

- Training in the Garda College will be deferred until further notice expect for specialist training activity (firearms, driver, armed support )

- In order to enhance community support, 210 additional vehicles have been hired

- Members of An Garda Síochána who were scheduled to avail of the severance package on  April 1 have been invited to defer their retirement for three months

- Subject to Government approval, Garda members of all ranks who have reached the compulsory retirement age can apply to remain in employment for a further 12 months subject to terms and conditions. Any Garda member who is required to retire on age ground on or before  June 1 2020 and wishes to remain in service can forward an application for the consideration of the Commissioner

- The Commissioner has designated the ongoing situation as an "exceptional event” in accordance with the Working Time Agreement

- Non-essential foreign travel will not be undertaken. All unnecessary large gatherings will be restricted. Only essential meetings in accordance with Government guidelines will take place with attendance limited to essential personnel only

Earlier this week, Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security established the Garda National Co-ordination Unit. Headed by a Chief Superintendent, its role is to ensure a co-ordinated approach when dealing with organisational issues with the COVID-19 virus

Special arrangements in place for DEASP customers from An Post

An Post has announced special arrangements for post office customers in receipt of payments from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP ).

In the event of a customer not being able to collect their DEASP payment personally at the Post Office a nominated person (Temporary Agent ) can be nominated to collect the payment on their behalf.

When collecting a payment, a ‘Temporary Agent’ must produce the recipient's card as issued by the DEASP as well as their own valid photo I.D. e.g current Passport, Driving Licence or Public Service Card.

To become a Temporary Agent, the recipient must complete the required form which is available from the Post Office.

Post offices throughout the country continue to operate as normal. We are carefully monitoring the situation regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus ). Business Continuity Plans are in place and we are working closely with the HSE Expert team, the Health Threats Coordination Group and international postal organisations. See anpost.com for further updates.

You can download the temporary agenet form from https://www.anpost.com/AnPost/media/PDFs/Appointment-of-Temporary-Agent.pdf

The ESB have issued a statment in relation to COVID-19

The ESB have issued the following statement in relation to COVID-19: "ESB recognises that our role in the provision of a reliable electricity service underpins all essential services and is therefore critical to the economy and society. This is even more important at this time of national need.

"Over the past number of months, ESB has been in continuous monitoring mode for developments regarding COVID-19 and has made preparations in the event that the number of infections escalates.

"Yesterday’s announcement by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD of a series of measures in response to the spread of COVID-19 represents a significant escalation in the response to what is now categorised by the World Health Organisation as a pandemic.

"Measures are being implemented in the critical functions of our business to ensure the ongoing supply of electricity in our generation stations, our networks businesses and in all supporting functions. We are also ensuring, through our networks and supply businesses, support for our customers, particularly for those most vulnerable.

"We have many employees across ESB whose attendance at work is essential to this ongoing service provision. While it is not planned to close any ESB sites at this time, guidelines are being put in place to enable, where required, our employees to work remotely, in anticipation of the evolving COVID-19 measures. Remote working will ensure continuity of our critical systems and support for our business and customers. This will reduce the population in the larger business sites, enabling people to work in line with national advice on social distancing."

Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC ) Thursday evening update

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC ) confrimed yesterday evening that they had been informed of 27 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and that Ireland had made the decision to move to Delay Phase.

Delay phase is designed to interrupt the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, by advising reductions on social interactions.

This brings the confirmed numbers in Ireland with COVID-19 to 70 an increase from 43 the previous day.

The latest numbers from the HSPC in relation to COVID-19 are:

- 22 cases are associated with local transmission, twp are associated with community transmission and three are associated with travel.

- Three of these new cases are in ICU bringing the total patients currently in ICU to ix.

- There is one confirmed death of COVID-19 in Ireland.

- There are now 70 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland.

The HSE has said they now working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients may have had, to provide them with information and advice to prevent further spread.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said; “The ECDC have now advised early, decisive, rapid, coordinated and comprehensive implementation of social distancing measures. Ireland has today responded to this advice.

The NPHET (National Public Health Emergency Team ) will meet to continue to review Ireland’s response to COVID-19. Thursday's measures are in place until March 29 and will be updated where necessary.

The NPHET said about the Delay Phase: "This phase requires a community effort, every citizen acting responsibly in order to protect our vulnerable and elderly members of society."

Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health said; “If we do nothing, the number of cases will increase rapidly and challenge our healthcare services. We need to flatten the curve – to slow transmission, to reduce the total number of cases and spread the number of cases out over a longer period of time.”

Department of Education says students should practice social distancing during closure

The Department of Education in said in their statement yesterday that all students should practice scoial distancing while the institutions are closed - they said: "All pupils and students, from pre-school to third level are urged to practice social distancing, and to minimise physical contact with each other, to help avoid the spread of Covid-19. This should include minimising social contact, avoiding meeting up and keeping physical space between them. Parents and guardians are urged to support their children to maintain this approach.

"In order to minimise the impact on teaching and learning all schools will be asked to continue to plan lessons and, where possible, provide online resources for students or online lessons where schools are equipped to do so. Schools are asked to be conscious of students that may not have access to online facilities and to consider this actively in their response.

"Schools are asked to prioritise supporting exam classes to continue to prepare for State examinations. Physical classes in universities and higher education facilities will not be held during the closure. Institutions can make other arrangements for teaching and learning and other activities in line with their business continuity plans and contingency planning."

Mayo Roscommon Hospice shops closed and events cancelled - but donations still needed

The Mayo Roscommon Hospice also issued a statement saying that: "We are currently in unprecedented times due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and the directions issued from Government this morning.

"Because of the directives and in order to keep our staff, volunteers and donors safe, Mayo Roscommon Hospice shops throughout the two counties will be closing until March 29th.

"The following fundraising events have also been postponed or cancelled: (1 ) The Mad Hatters Tea Party scheduled for the Trinity Arts Centre in Castlerea has been postponed until later in the summer., (2 ) The Cian Coleman Colour run due to take place in Claremorris on Sunday March 22 has also been postponed until a later date; (3 ) Break Out for Hospice – due to take place in Castlerea on Saturday April 11 has also been postponed, (4 )The Summer Ladies Lunch, scheduled for Sunday April 26 at The Lodge at Ashford Castle has been cancelled for this year

"Due to the cancellation of Public Masses, all Churchgate collections for March are cancelled. Please keep our palliative care teams and frontline staff in mind during this time. They will be to the fore when it comes to dealing with the situation.

"Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation remains fully committed to funding our palliative care service and building our Roscommon Hospice but due to these developments a considerable strain will be placed on our fundraising efforts. We receive no Government funding, so your help and support during this time is vital.

"We are asking people to text MRHF to 50300 at a cost of €4, where a minimum of €3.60 goes to Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation, or donate online on www.hospice.ie and help us to keep helping the most vulnerable in our society in their time of need.

Ireland West Airport & Portwest 5km Charity Runway Fun Run Postponed

Ireland West Airport will be postponing their Charity Runway Run, which was due to take place on Saturday, March 28, to a later date in the summer. For those who have already booked your booking will be still valid once a new date is confirmed. For those who wish to cancel their booking and receive a refund please contact [email protected] with your name and booking reference. Please remember this is a charity event and all funds raised will go towards our three charities for 2020

Suite of Government supports to be made available to businesses - Ring

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, has said that a suite of Government supports will be made available to businesses in Mayo impacted by COVID-19. Minister Ring said: "I know that this is a worrying time for businesses and I want to assure them that, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD, her Department and agencies are working on their behalf to develop and deliver a range of supports to help them through this rapidly evolving situation.

"Understandably, many businesses are very concerned about their cashflow in the coming weeks. I want to reassure them that there are a number of schemes that can help them meet their short-term working capital and liquidity needs."

Emergency measures needed for businesses in Mayo – Calleary

Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Calleary says emergency measures must be put in place immediately to help businesses in Mayo survive the COVID-19 crisis.

Deputy Calleary said that many small and medium sized businesses will face very significant cashflow issues in the short-term and has called on the Revenue to adopt a flexible and supportive role. He added banks need to support businesses in the county with additional working capital at this time.

He said: "Firstly it is key to protect public health. The steps taken are necessary to defend the country. Our businesses in Mayo are facing an unprecedented situation and need to know that they will be able to keep their heads above water. Additional supports are needed in the form of deferral of VAT and PRSI tax payments where the businesses are experiencing cashflow problems. Banks also need to issue clear guidelines on loan repayment deferrals.

"The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI ) liquidity loans which were announced by Minister Humphreys should be processed in a timely manner. The loans which will see €1.5m available at reduced rates, need to be accessible.

"The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government should direct Local Authorities to be flexible when it comes to commercial rates returns for businesses that genuinely cannot afford payments as a result of this crisis. These steps are necessary so that businesses can keep a positive cashflow.

"It is inevitable that many businesses in Mayo will come under severe pressure in the next number of weeks. We must ensure that viable businesses are supported to come through this period.

"For example, insurance providers cannot be allowed to deny cover for business interruption on the grounds that COVID-19 was not listed as a specified disease on the policy document.

"Covid-19 was only identified in recent months and listed as a notifiable disease in Ireland on February 20th. I would call on all insurance companies to review this stance and remove this unfair clause. It is in the interests of everyone that good businesses are helped through this period. We have to ensure that banks, insurance companies, the Revenue and others play their part to assist businesses at this time,” concluded Deputy Calleary.

Some public buildings closed around the county

As a result of the measures introduced by the Government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 - Mayo County Coucil have closed a number of public buildings around the county. All libraries, arts centres, museums and community facilities operated by the local authority have closed to the public from yesterday evening - however all leisure centres remain open. (Leisure Centre's and Swimming Pools - were closed as of close of business on Friday, March 13 )

In a statement the council said that: "The day-to-day running of all other services of Mayo County Council remains unaffected at this time. We will continue to work to put measures in place which will allow for contingency should our level of service be affected in the days and weeks ahead.

 "The management team of Mayo County Council have been meeting on a daily basis in relation to the COVID-19 issue and will continue to meet daily as the situation evolves.

"We endeavour to keep the public updated with any disruption to our services through local media and Mayo County Council media channels.

"We would encourage the public to follow the guidance issued by our health professionals in relation to COVID-19. In addition, we would encourage the public to watch out for each other particularly the vulnerable in our society."

Sporting events shut down

Sporting organistations across the country have shut down their games and events during the Delay Phase with the GAA, Ladies Gaelic Football Association, Camogie Association, FAI, IRFU, Basketball Ireland all postponing events across the country. Locally this has seen the Mayo senior football teams final two National League Division One games against Galway and Tyrone put off  and the start of the local Mayo soccer season whic was due to get underway this weekend. Horse Racing Ireland will be continuing to run their event around he country but will be doing so behind closed doors.

St Patrick's Day festivities cancelled

The annual St Patrick's Day parades were one of the first victims of the COVID-19 concerns, with parades across the county and country being cancelled - it also saw the travel plans of the delegation from Mayo County Council who were due to visit New York and Philidelphia not going ahead with their trips. The traditional Achill Pipe Band celebrations which take place on St Patrick's Day has also been cancelled.  

*This article has been last updated at 16.42 - on Friday, March 13

 

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