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Decision on what restrictions will be in place in December to be made next week by Cabinet

Level 5 restrictions are due to end on 1 December.

There is likely to be two Cabinet meetings next week to discuss the latest data.
There is likely to be two Cabinet meetings next week to discuss the latest data.
Image: RollingNews.ie

CABINET WILL MAKE a decision at the end of next week on how the country exits Level 5 restrictions in December. 

It is understood that Cabinet will meet as usual on Tuesday, but that it is likely ministers could meet for a second time towards the end of next week so as to assess more up to date virus data. 

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) are due to meet next Thursday.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has indicated that he wants to give businesses a couple of days notice on what restrictions might be in place come 1 December, when Level 5 is due to end.

Speaking in the Dáil earlier today, the Taoiseach said the government is making plans to exit Level 5, “which we want to do at the end of this month”.

He reiterated that the government will take on board sectoral recommendations, particularly those in respect of worship and people’s opportunity to attend mass and other services safely during Advent and in the lead-up to Christmas. 

“We want to get back to Level 3, but we will consider certain aspects of it because, as I said earlier, we have done a fair bit of work over recent months to ascertain as best we can the optimal triggers for the spread of the virus. We have worked to understand what particular events have been triggers and what has caused spikes in case numbers,” he said.

“We do not want to open up and then have very high numbers again in January or February. There will be a great focus on personal responsibility and the avoidance of large crowds both indoors and outdoors,” said the Taoiseach.

While the Taoiseach has already indicated that Level 3, with some modifications, is the December target for government, sources have said there is growing worry in government about the increase in case numbers.

There have been increasing calls from Opposition parties, as well as businesses for clarity around what will happen in December.

Retailers and publicans have called for urgent clarity, saying that they must re-open their doors in December.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, Employment and Workers’ Rights Louise O’Reilly today called on the government to provide clarity to businesses as to what the Christmas trading period will look like.

“It is necessary that the government keep businesses such as clothes and fashion retailers, pubs, restaurants, book and toy shops, and electronic goods shops informed about ongoing developments as we move through the Level 5 restrictions. They must have some clarity as to what trading for the Christmas period will look like.

“These businesses will have to roster staff, order stock, including perishable food and drink, introduce additional health and safety protections, and arrange opening and closing times, so it is essential that they know what trading will look like.

“Indeed, workers will also have to arrange their lives depending on what the festive period will look like,” she said.

Health Minister Stephen Donnolly said today that huge sacrifices have been made, and last week the reproductive number was down to 0.6. However, over the last week it is clear that people have become fatigued, he said. 

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Donnelly said based on NPHET proposals, case numbers should be 100 cases per day to get out of Level 5 in two weeks time. However, he said: “If we don’t hit the 100 it doesn’t mean we won’t come out of Level 5.”

He urged people to double down on their efforts over the next two weeks.

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