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Thursday 30 November 2023 Dublin: 3°C
new restrictions

Restaurants and pubs to close on Christmas Eve and household visit ban from Jan 1st, Taoiseach confirms

New household and travel restrictions will kick in before the New Year.

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has announced new Covid-19 restrictions, with restaurants and gastro pubs to close at 3pm on Christmas Eve.

In a national address just three days out from Christmas, the Taoiseach said the government had decided to meet the renewed threat from the virus “aggressively and head on”.

He said Ireland will return to Level 5 restrictions – with some adjustments – and there will be some new restrictions before the New Year.

As well as the closure of restaurants and pubs, hairdressers will also close on 24 December.

Household visits will be limited to one other household after 26 December, down from the current limit of two other households. From 1 January, no household or garden visits will be permitted.

Inter-county travel will also be restricted from 27 December, though people who have already left their county can remain in another county until they are due to return home. 

Hotels can only remain open for essential non-social and non-tourist purposes, except for guests who already have a booking and are due to check in up to and including 26 December.

Religious services will go back to being online only from 26 December.

Government has decided to keep non-essential retail and gyms open, despite Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan recommending that the country move to Level 5 restrictions as soon as possible. Retailers will be asked to defer winter sales events.

Gyms and leisure centres can remain open for individual training only.

The government has said people should operate on the basis that these restrictions will be in place for the first two months of the year.

Yesterday, public health officials warned that Ireland is now “clearly in a third wave of this pandemic”.

Today Martin said the government is proceeding on the assumption that the new Covid-19 variant identified recently in the UK is already in the country.

Martin said figures suggest we may now be seeing  daily growth rate of approximately 10% and this is “not sustainable”.

“A lot of people will be receiving today’s news with a heavy heart. I know that I bring it to you with one. Each and every one of us need to remember that, while it may not seem like it, what we have done to date, and what we are doing now doing now is saving lives. Because of the sacrifices that so many are making, because of the restrictions we are accepting in our lives, many many people are alive today who would otherwise not be,” Martin said.

He said Ireland has managed to sustain one of the lowest Covid mortality rates in all of Europe and “we want to keep it that way”.

Martin said it is important to remember there is “light at the end of this tunnel”, with a delivery of almost 10,000 vaccine doses due to arrive shortly. He said the rollout of these vaccines will commence next week to our most vulnerable.

He said this year, the way for us to show “our love and respect for others” this Christmas is to act responsibly and comply with guidelines.

“This Christmas is going to be different, but it is also going to be very special,” Martin said.

“We’ve lost many friends and neighbours to this disease, and many others didn’t get the goodbye they deserved because of the restrictions, that the disease required.

“We remember all of them. Together we look forward to brighter days. I want to wish everyone a peaceful Christmas and happier, hopeful New Year.”

- With reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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