Offaly TD Carol Nolan has said that NPHET is to recommend not extending the lockdown in Offaly and Laois after August 22. However, in response to a question from a constituent, she said that “Kildare may well remain in lockdown.”

The recommendation still has to be signed off by the Government which is expected to announce its decision tomorrow.

Any easing of restrictions will come as a great relief to the people of Laois and Offaly, but as a huge disappointment to those living in Kildare, where local businesses said today that extending the lockdown would have devastating implications for the county.

“We have got to ensure that any future clusters are dealt with more proportionally and with far more common-sense. It is just not feasible to go on sending entire counties in and out of lockdown with the kind of Lanigan’s Ball approach that we have seen recently,” said Deputy Nolan.

While there is much dismay regarding the situation in the three counties, added to the massive backlash within GAA circles against the new measures directed at team sports, there are also signs that the state may be fuelling panic.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was ambushed by a teacher in Cork today who expressed her concerns over the planned re-opening of schools. That has been echoed by a growing number of people who can hardly be blamed for following the lead of the Government.

There is no valid reason why schools should not re-open, as they have done or will shortly do in other countries. But then reason appears to be an increasingly declining factor in all of this.