Lockdown but Donegal traders fighting back

COVID-19 cases are dropping in the county but new, stricter restrictions came into place yesterday, generating anger in some quarters and resignation in others.
On Wednesday evening, shop owners around Letterkenny were busy putting in place alternative systems for trading, including online and click and collect.
“We’re trying to be as positive as possible given the circumstances but I honestly can’t figure out how they expect people to do all their shopping, keeping two metre spacing, in a three week period before Christmas. I don’t know if it’s possible. I don’t have the answers,” said Mr Gary Cooney of Cooney’s Home Interiors .
Mr Emmet Rushe of Rushe Fitness was also asking questions.“Out of the entire sports and fitness industry there’s been three confirmed cases in forty-one weeks so it’s hard to justify why our businesses are closed while others, who have had a lot more clusters, are still going.
“We’re now into the dark, cold evenings which doesn’t help some people who are already in a bad place mentally. For many of these people the gym was their go to place. It meant that they had to get up, get dressed and make the effort to go out to the gym and that’s what kept them going,” he said.
There were eighteen Covid-19 cases in Letterkenny University Hospital at tea-time. Donegal had dropped from top of the infection rate table to eighth place but complancy, it seems, still exists.
Said Dr Paul Armstrong, Lifford GP and Clinical Lead of the Covid hub centre in Letterkenny: “There are still positive cases coming through every day. People are still in and out of each other’s houses, having a cup of tea, sitting on the couch in close proximity to one another and we now know it passes easily between people.”
Meanwhile, Dr Clifford Haley, Executive Clinical Director, Donegal Mental Health Service, has moved to allay fears that beds had been removed from the service. There are usually 34 acute psychiatric in-patient beds in Letterkenny University Hospital but due to the Government’s ‘Covid cushion’ only twenty are in use at present.
Dr Haley said: “The safe number of beds, from a social distancing and public health perspective, has been set at twenty but that doesn’t mean we have closed the additional beds. If the demand is there the beds will be used. Once we go over that number (20) we have to be extra cautious trying to maintain Covid restrictions within the unit.
“We have also identified six beds which could exist in a bubble and can be used for Covid positive patients. If thirty four patients present needing acute psychiatric care as in patients we would admit 34 patients.”
The story is not the same across the county. Case numbers have remained relatively low in parts of west Donegal. However, Dr Tony Delap, GP in Gaoth Dobhair has warned against complacency. “We’ve done well but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be on our guard,” he said.

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere

and get access to our archive editions dating back to 2007
Every Thursday
Every Monday

Donegal News is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. St. Anne's Court, Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland