What the Republic of Ireland lockdown could mean for the UK

The Republic of Ireland is back into a full national lockdown. Are we going to see a similar full lockdown in the UK?

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The Republic of Ireland is back into a full lockdown after new coronavirus cases in the country hit record levels. Could we see the same kind of lockdown in the UK, and how might this affect our personal finances?

How does Ireland’s lockdown compare with what’s happening in the UK?

With the new national lockdown that will last six weeks, the Republic of Ireland joins countries across Europe that are toughening restrictions to fight a second wave of the coronavirus.

Wales is already under a two-week firebreak lockdown that will last over the half-term period. Northern Ireland has imposed a four-week circuit breaker lockdown.

The aim is to break the chain of coronavirus transmissions without inflicting long-term damage on the economies of each country. People have been asked to stay at home and all non-essential shops and businesses have closed.

England and Scotland have adopted an entirely different approach, implementing tier-based systems of lockdown restrictions. The English system has three tiers while the Scottish system has five.

Ireland’s new lockdown explained

Ireland’s new lockdown comes with some of the most severe restrictions in any country in Europe right now. Here are the main rules:

  • People should stay and work at home wherever possible (though they can freely move within 5km of their homes, for example, to exercise)
  • Restaurants, bars and cafes are shut except for takeaway services
  • There is a ban on social and family gatherings (with the exception of weddings and funerals)
  • There should be no visits to other people’s homes, but an extended household or support bubble for specific categories of individuals is allowed
  • Schools, early learning services and childcare services remain open

Will we see another national lockdown in the UK?

Amid surging coronavirus infection rates across the four UK nations, which have resulted in the imposition of new rules almost every other week, it’s hard to gauge how well each government is doing in terms of containing the virus, as well as what’s working and what is not.

Consider Sunday, 26 October’s coronavirus statistics in England, where the three-tier lockdown system has been in place for two weeks. There were 19,790 new coronavirus cases and 151 deaths reported, compared to the previous Sunday’s 16,982 infections and 67 deaths. Clearly, things aren’t getting any better.

We cannot completely rule out all countries in the UK following Ireland’s lead in the near future should the current set of rules fail to work. After all, Boris Johnson has already said that if required, a second lockdown, like the one in March, is not out the question (though he did mention that it would be a ‘disaster’).

With that said, the best thing we can do is remain hopeful that the new rules will work. But as with everything else during this pandemic, we’ll have to wait and see. 

How could a lockdown like the one in Ireland affect our personal finances?

The coronavirus pandemic has undeniably brought our personal finances into sharp focus. Here are a few ways that a national UK lockdown akin to the one in Ireland might affect our personal finances.

Shifts in spending and shopping habits

With many physical shops closed, a national lockdown might bring a shift from physical to online shopping.

We could also see an increase in spending on groceries as people stock up to prepare for worse times ahead (as was the case with the first lockdown in March).

On the other hand, other expenses like travel and eating out are likely to go down as a reflection of the home-based lifestyle that comes with a lockdown.


With most people not going out much, a lockdown presents an opportunity to save more money.

Unfortunately, interest rates on savings accounts have currently bottomed out (which is a deliberate move to encourage spending). But if you’re looking for a way to make the most out of your lockdown savings, consider opening a stocks and shares ISA (where you can invest up to £20,000 tax-free every year).

While investing in stocks comes with risks, it also comes with the possibility of good returns in the long term. 

Financial transactions

A lockdown is likely to accelerate a move into a cashless society. We might see more use of online banking services and digital payment methods like credit cards.

Employment and income

Unfortunately, significant falls in employment and earnings can be expected with any lockdown. If this makes you feel less secure about your future, there’s no need to panic. There’s currently a wide range of government support available for those affected by coronavirus.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

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