SEVENTEEN: Cities Under Lockdown: Public Health, Urban Vulnerabilities, and Neighborhood Planning in Dublin

Since its initial appearance in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, much attention has focused on the disproportionate spread and impact of COVID-19 in metropolitan areas and on patterns and rates of infection and morbidity in cities, neighborhoods, and across different ethnic backgrounds (Hamidi et al, 2020; Mills et al, 2020).1 Across the globe, a key strategy to contain and mitigate the worst effects of the virus has been through halting or limiting mobility through ‘lockdowns’. #Staysafe #stayhome public health messaging appeared across print, social, and broadcast media in many countries. Given the short timeframes to assess impact, less attention has been paid in the academic literature to date on the differential impacts of public health restrictions to contain the virus on particular groups, individuals, and communities. While it is still too early to fully document what the long-term consequences might be, in this chapter we detail the immediate impacts of ‘lockdown’ through the experience of one community – Dublin 8, an inner-city neighborhood in southwest Dublin. We argue that the experience of ‘lockdown’ is contextually dependent and, through interviews with key community workers, social care providers, and residents, elucidate how already-disadvantaged communities were disproportionately impacted, compounding their vulnerabilities.

Over the past 30 years, Dublin (Ireland) has experienced extensive urban regeneration through ‘flagship’ commercial projects but also through social housing estate regeneration programs, many controversially initiated under public-private partnerships. Success has been limited, with developments critiqued for failing to address the specific needs of targeted communities and the city’s general housing accessibility and affordability crises (Hearne, 2011). The longer-term implications of this neglect and policy failure became acutely evident during COVID-19 mobility restrictions, particularly in relation to access to green and other forms of safe outdoor spaces.

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