DUBLIN, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin announced on Friday that parts of the country will be put under restrictions again due to rising cases of COVID-19.
The decision, which will take effect from midnight Friday and last for an initial period of two weeks, involves three counties in the country, namely Kildare, Offaly and Laois, all located in the central southern part of Ireland.
Residents in these areas will not be permitted to travel outside of their own county except for some special reasons such as seeking medical treatment and caring for children, elderly or vulnerable people.
Some of the public facilities and businesses in these regions, including cinemas, theatres, museums, galleries, gyms, casinos and restaurants, will be closed. Indoor and outdoor gatherings will be restricted to a maximum of 6 and 15 people respectively except for funerals which will allow the attendance of 25 people in maximum.
The Irish Department of Health said that a total of 98 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the country on Friday, of which 66 cases were from the above-mentioned three areas and most of the cases in these areas were related to clusters of infections.
To date, 26,470 people have contracted COVID-19 in Ireland and 1,772 of them have died from the virus, according to the department.
Ireland planned to move into phase four of reopening its economy and society on Aug. 10. However, due to the rising number of COVID-19 in the country, the plan has been pigeonholed by the government for at least three weeks.
Official statistics showed that the total number of cases in the last two weeks in Ireland has been more than doubled compared with the previous fortnight.
The country's Acting Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn said that the present reproduction rate, which refers to the average number of people infected by a virus carrier, in Ireland has risen to 1.8 from the past 0.5 or so.
On Thursday, Ireland reported five COVID-19-related deaths, the first such deaths reported in the country in the past 11 days.