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Midnight closing time for pubs from Thursday as Cabinet agrees on measures to curb Covid-19

The government’s previous advice for people to work from home if possible is to come into force again from Friday morning.

Image: Sasko Lazarov

Updated Nov 16th 2021, 6:38 PM

PUBS, RESTAURANTS AND nightclubs will have a new closing time of midnight, effective from Thursday night following a Cabinet decision this morning, it was confirmed this evening.

The move comes following increasing concerns about the pressure being put on hospitals as a result of the spread of Covid-19 and less than a month after nightclubs had reopened following a 19-month closure.  

Reacting to the news that pub opening hours are set to again be cut from Thursday, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) has called on the government to immediately reintroduce Covid supports for the late night sector.

Both the LVA and Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has called for the reactivation of the CRSS (COVID Recovery Support Scheme.

“Effectively this latest announcement means that the current government strategy isn’t working,” LVA CEO Donall O’Keeffe said today. 

We were told that if we waited until the majority of the public was vaccinated we would be able to get back to trading. Well we waited and that wasn’t enough. 

He added: “It also needs to be acknowledged that every time the government flicks the switch on restrictions there are consequences for people’s livelihoods and the businesses that sustain those livelihoods. We will have enormous difficulty retaining our staff after this latest decision.”

Address

The new measures from the government were confirmed by Taoiseach Micheál Martin in an address this evening.

It followed a meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19 last night, attended by the Taoiseach, senior ministers and public health officials.

Speaking to reporters on his way into Cabinet this morning, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the current situation is “very concerning” and that there is an obligation on everyone to reduce social interactions to help reduce incidence rates. 

“The overall objective is to prevent people from getting very sick, going into hospitals, ICUs. We simply have to limit the increase we are experiencing at the moment,” Martin said. 

He said the government will provide notice over any decisions the government makes today on Covid-19 measures, but he added that “the situation … was one that does demand fairly quick action in respect of easing that pressure on the acute hospital system over the next number of weeks”. 

The Taoiseach said while the government has to make decisions today, collectively, as a society, people have to look out for each other and to be very aware that the “situation is getting worse and will get worse before it gets better”. 

Modelling presented at the meeting showed that up to 500 people could require ICU treatment by next month if the virus continues to spread on its current trajectory.

NPHET said last week that the re-imposition of social and economic restrictions was not currently being recommended but “cannot fully be ruled out”.

It comes as the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 reached its highest level since February.

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The latest figures from the Department of Health reveal that 622 people are in hospital with the virus, including 117 people in intensive care units. A total of 4,570 new cases of the illness were reported yesterday.

The government is also aiming to expand the vaccine booster programme to those aged between 50 and 59.

A letter from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) to Government confirming this advice was received last night.

Speaking on the way into this morning’s Cabinet meeting, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly welcomed the advice, saying there would now be a “very, very strong” focus on boosters.

Widening the use of the Covid certs across society is also to be implemented, with passes required for entry into theatres and cinemas. The Cabinet has also agreed that the government’s previous advice for people to work from home if possible is to come in again from Friday morning. 

In a further move which attempts to limit the spread of the virus, anyone living in a household of someone who is a confirmed case of Covid-19 is to be asked to restrict their movements for five days. 

Someone who is a lab-confirmed case of Covid-19 is currently required to self-isolate for 10 days after they became symptomatic.  

With reporting by Stephen McDermott and Hayley Halpin

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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