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What is the advice under Level 5 restrictions?

It has changed a bit since the last time NPHET recommended Level 5.

LAST NIGHT, THE National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommended that the government implement nationwide Level 5 restrictions for six weeks.

This is the most severe level of restrictions, which involves no social gatherings, all but essential retailers to close, and possibly that schools would close.

When the Living with Covid roadmap was first released, it stated that schools and creches would remain open under Level 5 – but that assertion has been since removed to say that it depends on the epidemiological situation. 

This is the second time NPHET has made this recommendation in less than two weeks: the last time, the government went against NPHET’s advice and instead placed the entire country under Level 3 restrictions.

Since then, the situation has escalated further: data shared at the Department of Health briefing last night indicates that if the current trajectory of the disease continues, there will be 1,800-2,200 cases a day, with 400 Covid-19 patients hospitalised. 

Counties Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal are under Level 4 restrictions as of last night, with the rest of the country under Level 3 ‘plus’ restrictions (no household visits). 

Level 5 is practically a return to the restrictions we had back in April and May, but perhaps with schools, creches and play groups open.

Here’s a run-through the restrictions (as they currently stand):

Social gatherings: You cannot have visitors to your home – indoors or outdoors. You also cannot meet people socially in other settings. Visits to nursing and care homes are suspended, except in critical and compassionate circumstances.

Travel and transport: You cannot travel beyond 5km of your home. People should work from home unless they are essential workers or cannot do their job from home. Public transport can operate with capacity restricted to 25% (it’s currently at 50%).

Schools: The previous advice was that schools and creches would remain open in Level 5 – the advice under this heading is now unclear: “Recommendations based on situation and evidence at time.” However, play areas and parks will remain open with protective measures in place. 

Cocooning: People over 70 and people who are medically vulnerable should avoid public transport, shop during designated hours and limit their interactions to a small number of people. More ‘specific’ guidance will be issued at the time, the advice states.

Restaurants, pubs, retail and hotels: There can only be takeaway or food delivery services from cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs – including those in hotels. Only essential retail outlets will be allowed to remain open, and hotels can only open for essential non-social or non-tourist purposes.

Weddings and funerals: A maximum of six people can attend weddings, and 10 people can attend funerals, with some other restrictions. Mass and other religious services will be moved online, but places of worship will remain open for individuals to pray.

Sport: There can be no matches or team training exercises – only individual training sessions can take place. No exercise or dance classes either, and swimming pools and gyms will be closed.

Organised gatherings/events: There can be no indoor or outdoor gatherings. This includes arts events, conferences, theatre shows or cinemas. All museums and galleries will also be closed. 

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It must be noted that the Irish government could adopt a Level 5 ‘plus’ either, which would include these measures plus additional ones.

This has happened before: the country is currently in ‘Level 3 plus plus’ where all rules follow the Level 3 restrictions, but alcohol-only pubs follow Level 4 restrictions (outdoor seating only, limited to 15 people), and people can now not have visitors to their homes.

  • You can read more about all five Levels here.

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