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*An elderly woman prayers as a COVID-19 press briefing airs on the television. Photograph: John Mangan

It’s year today since Clare recorded its first case of COVID-19, Tadhg Holland pinpoints the key dates of the past twelve months as the virus entered the county.

  • March 4th 2020 – First cases of COVID-19 in Clare confirmed as a family of four all contract the virus after travelling from Northern Italy. 4 schools close in North Clare.
  • March 6th 2020 –Mr Murphy’s Leaving cert maths class at Ennistymon CBS becomes the first to hold a virtual class in Clare.
  • March 7th 2020 – A former Garda station in Lahinch is converted into a testing centre. St. Patrick’s Day parades in Fanore and Lisdoonvarna are cancelled.
  • March 9th 2020 – St. Patrick’s Day parades are cancelled across Clare as Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) asks the people of Clare to “remain calm”.
  • March 11th 2020 – The first death in the country is confirmed as an elderly patient in Naas General Hospital dies as a result of the virus. The WHO declare COVID-19 a pandemic.
  • March 12th 2020 – It is announced schools, colleges and childcare facilities would close. It is planned that they will reopen on March 29th.
  • March 15th 2020 – Pubs and bars across the country are advised to close.
  • March 18th 2020 – The national total of confirmed cases reaches 366. Meanwhile the first county by county breakdown is published showing Clare to have one of the smallest clusters with only 5 of 271 cases analysed linked to the county.
  • March 24th 2020 – Then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (FG) announces the tightest restrictions yet with a 2km travel limit coming into effect on the 28th.
  • March 27th 2020 – The national total of confirmed cases passes 2,000 as the Clare total reaches 26.
  • April 1st 2020 – Cusack Park is to be used as a drive-thru testing facility.
  • April 3rd 2020 – The number of confirmed cases in Clare reach 50 as Ireland records its biggest daily increase with 424 new cases reported. 120 people have now died of COVID-19 in Ireland.
  • April 10th 2020 – Varadkar and then Minister for Education Joe McHugh (FG) announce that the Leaving Cert will be postponed. The Junior Cert is cancelled. At the same time it is announced that lockdown restrictions that were scheduled to last until April 17th will be extended by 3 weeks.
  • April 12th 2020 – Buildings around Clare including Shannon Airport light up as a show of solidarity with frontline workers.
  • April 13th 2020 – National total of confirmed COVID-19 cases passes 10,000.
  • April 14th 2020 – The total number of cases in Clare passes 100.
  • April 17th 2020 – There are 17 new cases in Clare the biggest daily increase in the county since the pandemic began.
  • May 1st 2020 – The government publishes their roadmap for reopening the country.
  • May 8th 2020 – The Leaving Cert is officially cancelled.
  • May 9th 2020 – The total number of cases in Clare passes 300 but the daily COVID-19 figures continue to decrease nationally.
  • May 18th 2020 – Ireland enters into phase 1 of reopening allowing people from different households to meet outdoors among other easing of restrictions
  • May 19th 2020 – Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan says community transmission is ‘effectively wiped out.’
  • June 5th 2020 – The government announce they will be accelerating the roadmap for reopening the country.
  • June 29th 2020 – Churches, gyms, salons, barbers, hotels and pubs that serve food across the county reopen.
  • July 12th 2020 – Clare’s 30 day streak of recording no new cases ends.
  • July 15th 2020 – Plans to reopen all pubs deferred.
  • July 24th 2020 – HSE confirms Clare is free of COVID-19 with no active coronavirus case in the county.
  • August 20th 2020 – The Government tightens restrictions as cases rise. Indoor gatherings limited to 6, outdoor gatherings limited to 15 and employers must continue to facilitate remote working. On the same day, The Irish Examiner breaks the story on Golf Gate revealing that Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary (FF), European Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan (FG), Supreme Court Judge Seamus Wolfe and 78 other guests attended an Oireachtas Golf Society meeting in breach of COVID-19 restrictions.
  • August 29th 2020 – Schools across Clare open their doors as students return to school after a 5-month closure.
  • September 21st 2020 – ‘Wet Pubs’ in Clare and across the country reopen.
  • September 22nd 2020 – The Government’s Living with COVID framework comes into practice. Clare is at level 2.
  • October 9th 2020 – Data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre shows that Clare has the third highest incidence rate in the country.
  • October 12th 2020 – Health officials confirm Clare has the highest test positivity rate in the last 7 days.
  • October 19th 2020 – Taoiseach Micheál Martin (FF) announces that the country will be moving to Level 5 for a 6-week period.
  • November 10th 2020 – After weeks of lockdown the 14 day incidence rate per 100k in Clare returns to one of the lowest levels in the country.
  • November 16th 2020 – A second testing centre in Ennis opens with a Ballymaley Business Park facility now operations.
  • December 21st 2020 – Health officials say the country is in a third wave after weeks of rising cases.
  • December 22nd 2020 – Government announce new COVID-19 restrictions for Christmas as cases continue to rise.
  • December 29th 2020 – The first vaccine dose is given in the Republic of Ireland.
  • December 30th 2020 – Ireland enters into third lockdown. Reopening of schools after the Christmas break delayed until January 11th.
  • January 6th 2021 – After record breaking case numbers it is announced that the country will return to severe lockdown restrictions as seen in the first wave. Schools will remain closed except for Leaving Cert students who will attend school 3 days a week.
  • January 7th 2021 – After much controversy, the Government row back on their decision to allow Leavings Certs to go back to school.
  • January 8th 2021 – Clare’s 14-day incidence rate reaches an all-time high.
  • January 25th 2021 – Level 5 lockdown restrictions are extended until March 5th
  • January 26th 2021 – The national death toll from COVID-19 passes 3,000.
  • February 11th 2021 – As the rate of transmission remains high nationally 98-year-old Dun Purcell from Feakle beats the odds to be discharged from Ennis Hospital after recovering from the virus.
  • February 15th 2021 – Two vaccination centres will open in Co Clare, it is confirmed.
  • February 23rd 2021 – Taoiseach Martin announces that Level 5 restrictions will be extend to April 5th.

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