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People on Grafton Street in Dublin at the weekend.

New Covid-19 measures for hospitality, nightclubs and household visits taking effect today

A number of restrictions announced last week are in place from now until 9 January.

SEVERAL NEW COVID-19 restrictions have been introduced from today until next month after being confirmed by the Taoiseach last week.

The Cabinet agreed to bring in the additional measures following “very stark” advice from public health officials to introduce further curbs on socialising ahead of Christmas. 

So from today until 9 January, nightclubs must close and indoor hospitality will keep the current midnight curfew.

No more than six people can sit at a table and there is table service only with strict social distancing. Multiple table bookings will also not be allowed in hospitality, and masks must be worn when not at the table.

Strict social distancing will be required in all bars and restaurants, including hotels.

Visits to private homes should be reduced to a maximum of three other households – four households in total.

However, the advice also notes that people should reduce their social contacts during the period ahead while “recognising the the need for flexibility depending on individual circumstances”. 

The government has recognised that larger household numbers will “likely choose to come together” on certain days, particularly on Christmas Day, St Stephen’s Day and New Year’s Eve.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the household measure is guidance and not statutory: “There’ll be no gardaí calling to people’s homes, to see how many are inside.”

Covid-19 vaccine cert will now be required for hotel bars, restaurants, gyms and leisure centres.

There will be a limit of 50% capacity for indoor cultural, entertainment, community and sporting events. Attendees must all be fully seated and masks must be worn at all times.

Theatres, music venues and promoters said they were “blindsided” by this restriction as they try to come up with ways to implement the changed rules. 

Organisers were given just days to rearrange plans for events they had already sold tickets for at higher than 50% capacity, with some choosing to cancel or reschedule.

The Cabinet will meet later today where it’s reported ministers will review the impact of Covid-19 on the economy. 

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment reopens today for people who have been laid off as a result of the latest Covid-19 restrictions introduced by the government.

The payment will have five different rates from €350 to €150 per week. The reopening of the payment is intended to support workers who lose their job as a direct result of the introduction of the new restrictions, which come into effect tomorrow.

Announcing the measures last week, Micheál Martin said: “The CMO and our Public Health Experts have been exceptionally clear in their advice to Government. The risks associated with proceeding into the Christmas period without some restrictions to reduce the volume of personal contacts is just too high.”

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