The Republic of Ireland to move to highest restrictions.
The Government has agreed to Level 5 restrictions across the State for six weeks from Wednesday night.
It is understood intense negotiations between Ministers and health officials resulted in a decision to seek Cabinet approval for Level 5 rather than an enhanced Level 4, which was under discussion yesterday.
However, it is understood schools and crèches will remain open and elite level sport will be permitted. As part of the restrictions, the public will be asked to stay within 5kms of their home. Sources described the proposal as a “soft Level 5” approach.
TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has announced that Ireland will move to Level 5 restrictions for six weeks in response to an alarming surge in Covid-19 cases.
These are the most severe set of restrictions in the government’s Living with Covid roadmap, but today’s announcement contains some ‘softer’ measures such as social bubbles and additional guests at wedding ceremonies.
The restrictions will come into effect from midnight on Wednesday night.
Announcing the restrictions tonight, the Taoiseach said that “many people have done everything that has been asked of them, but some have not”.
He said that although the spread of the coronavirus has slowed under Level 3 restrictions, “this has not been enough, and further action is now required”.
A 5km travel limit will be in place under Level 5, except for essential reasons. There will be a penalty, expected to be a fine, for those who move outside their 5km limit.
– The public will be asked to stay within 5km of their homes
– Schools and creches expected to remain open
– There is the ability to meet outdoors with one other household
– There will be no visitors in private homes permitted
– Funerals will be limited to 10 people and a maximum of 25 people can attend a wedding.
– Bars, cafes, restaurants and wet pubs can only offer deliver or takeaway
– Only essential retail allowed to open
– Elite level sport permitted
– Public being asked to work from home where possible
– Construction will also be allowed to continue.
In a divergence from what was originally contained in the Living with Covid roadmap, a household can meet with one other household if it is outside, and away from their home.
‘Support bubbles’ will also be introduced for lone parents, senior citizens, and vulnerable people; this will mean a household can pair up with one other household. This guidance has been in the works since the last set of restrictions were announced last week (which advised against visitors to people’s homes or gardens).
Only essential retailers and essential services will be allowed to stay open: the Government is to “improve” the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, the Taoiseach said.
Bars, restaurants and cafés will no longer be allowed to seat people outdoors for meals, and instead will only offer takeaway and delivery services.
Schools, creches and other childcare services will also remain open.
The number of guests allowed at weddings will stay at 25, in a divergence from the Level 5 restrictions in the Living with Covid roadmap, which allowed for six attendees. The 25 includes the couple getting married and celebrant.
Under the Living with Covid guidelines, gyms and adult amateur sports training will be stopped, while professional and elite sports – such as the GAA championships – will be allowed to continue.
Public transport will operate at 25% capacity for the purposes of allowing those providing essential services to get to work (it had been at 50% capacity under Level 3).
The announcement of these new restrictions comes two weeks after the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) first recommended that the government move to Level 5.
Cabinet rejected it then and instead implemented a nationwide Level 3; Tánaiste Leo Varadkar later said that the Level 5 recommendation from NPHET hadn’t been thought through.
Last Thursday, NPHET recommended again that the government implement Level 5 restrictions, based on the current trajectory of the disease.
A further 1,031 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the Republic by the National Public Health Emergency Team.
Of the new cases, 235 were in Dublin, 232 in Cork, 60 in Galway, 47 in Limerick, 47 in Kerry, and the remaining 410 cases were spread across 21 counties.
Some 70% of the cases were in people under the age of 45. The median age is 30 years old.
As of 2pm today, 298 people were in hospitals with Covid-19. These included 34 people in ICUs.
No new deaths linked to the virus were reported.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: “If you have symptoms of Covid-19, if you are waiting for a test result or if you are a confirmed case, you must self-isolate for 10 days from when you first develop symptoms. Self-isolation means staying in your room, away from other members of your household.
“If you live in a house with a confirmed case, do not go to work or school. You must stay at home and restrict your movements for 14 days.”