Tipperary County Council chairman says effects of Laois and Offaly lockdown will be felt in North Tipp

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The Cathaoirleach of Tipperary County Council says the lockdown in the neighbouring counties will have an impact locally.

It comes as health officials are warning that the new COVID-19 restrictions in Laois and Offaly, along with Kildare, could be extended to other areas.

Councillor Michael Smith is from Roscrea, which shares a border with two of the three counties affected.

He says now is the time for people to double-down in their efforts to surpress the virus:

“You know I suppose, the first thing to say is that I think it is the right call.

“You have to be decisive. But it’s disappointing also for those counties.

“I would have spoken to a lot of people, both last night and again this morning, who obviously are making contact with their employer, finding out what is the situation for them because there is a bit of uncertainty and we’re trying to clear up a lot of that.

“I know most employers will try to be reasonable.”

Cathaoirleach Smith says there’s no question but the measures will have some impact on the local economy of North Tipperary – especially those towns right on the border:

“You only have to go probably a mile outside on every road network in Roscrea and you’re into either Laois or Offaly.

“So from the point of view of commuting and getting around, it is going to have that impact.

“…and you know, the cafés and restaurants – it is going to have an impact on them and the local economy.

“But we’re in this together, it’s a neighbouring county now and no-one knows what could happen because it could happen to another county in the coming days.”

People are being asked to only travel out of the three counties for essential reasons like medical appointments, work or for childcare.

It follows a spike in coronavirus cases in recent weeks – mainly in meat factories and direct provision centres.

The HSE has also moved to re-activate drive-in testing centres in the counties, including in Newbridge.