"It's no surprise that we're seeing a similar picture on either side of the border."
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ronan Glynn says he believes the people of Donegal will follow the restrictions and stay in the county, and said that if the implementation of public health guidance relied on enforcement then "we're going to lose this".
Donegal is due to move to Level 3 of the Government's roadmap from midnight on Friday, as cases in the county spiked rapidly this week. The local restrictions, the same as those in place in Dublin, will remain in place for at least three weeks.
Concern has been raised about high incidence rates in neighbouring counties Tyrone and Derry, which are not under similar restrictions, and that may be also contributing to the rise in confirmed cases of Covid-19. Dr. Glynn and his counterpart in the north Dr. Michael McBride spoke today and issued a joint statement urging people not to travel across the border unnecessarily while the restrictions remain in place.
Speaking to JOE on Friday afternoon, Dr. Glynn admitted that the restrictions are difficult for Gardaí to impose, but that he had every faith people will act to protect their communities;
"It is hard to enforce, but as with 99% of our response to Covid, if we're dependent on enforcement we're going to lose this", he said.
"Ultimately, any success that we can claim to have had over the past number of months has been based primarily on people's willingness to engage with the public health advice and to adhere to it, and I'm quite sure that there will be people who ignore the advice and travel one way or the other this weekend, but equally I'm sure that the vast majority of people will heed the ask of myself and Dr. McBride today, and will stay within their locality", Dr. Glynn continued.
He also emphasised that the ability to suppress and contain Covid-19 remains in the hands of the people of Donegal;
"They're doing that not for government, they're not doing it for Dr. McBride, they're not doing it for me; they're doing it for themselves and their communities. Because the fastest way out of this for Donegal is for people in Donegal to take ownership of it.
"I heard many people interviewed in Donegal and it was really heartening to hear them take ownership and take control of the problem and say that it's their responsibility and they're going to do everything they can over the next few weeks to turn the situation around."
Speaking more broadly on the Covid-19 response across the island of Ireland, Dr. Glynn emphasised the cooperative approach taken by both he and his counterpart Dr. McBride to stop the spread of the virus here;
"There's no doubt that the virus doesn't care or doesn't respect the border. I can only speak from the perspective of my relationship with Dr. McBride, we've a very close relationship, we would engage on these issues at least once a week."
Dr. Glynn also said that similar trends to Donegal are being seen in other border towns;
"We spoke this morning in relation to the current issue in Donegal and indeed in relation to what we're seeing in Louth as well and indeed in Monaghan.
"So it's no surprise that we're seeing a similar picture on either side of the border, and I think we all just need to work together over the coming months to ensure that we keep the island as safe as we can, from all perspectives."
There were 326 confirmed cases of Covid-19 notified in the Republic of Ireland today, while 273 cases have been confirmed in the north of the country. No deaths were reported on the island of Ireland today.
Dr. Glynn spoke to JOE on Friday about young people's response to Covid-19, what Ireland's winter alongside the virus may look like and why NPHET have dismissed the Swedish model. The full interview will be available on Monday 25 September.