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The three party leaders, as well as the Covid Cabinet committee, met this evening.

Cabinet Covid Committee agrees hospitality should shut on Christmas Eve

It is understood that restaurants and gastro pubs could close from mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve.

GOVERNMENT PARTY LEADERS met this evening to discuss the growing concerns over the rise in Covid-19 cases. 

The meeting of party leaders, as well as the Cabinet Covid committee, was held ahead of tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting, which is set to sign off on the bringing forward of restrictions, which were due to end on 6 January. 

It is understood that the Cabinet Covid-19 Committee has tonight agreed that restaurants and gastro pubs should close from mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve.  

The travel restrictions from Britain to Ireland are also set to last until 31 December. 

An announcement on the measures will be made after tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting.

Earlier today, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the government may decide to re-introduce the inter-county travel ban earlier than 6 January.

The inter-county travel restriction was only lifted at the weekend, along with the ban on household visits, to allow families to come together over the Christmas period.

It was flagged over the weekend, that inter-county travel would remain in place until 6 January, however it will be discussed further at Cabinet tomorrow. 

It is understood that inter-county travel could be stopped from 26 December onwards, subject to further discussions. 

Household visit restrictions will be also discussed in further detail tomorrow. 

It is believed that government was adamant to keep non-essential retail and gyms open.

Government sources said this will safeguard jobs and preserve peoples’ mental health during what will be a challenging period. They noted that the rise in cases would have been seeded two weeks ago, with little expectation that they are set to fall before January. 

It is the government’s view that the restrictions will be reviewed two weeks into January, when Christmas mixing should have dissipated and numbers might begin to taper off.

The party leaders also discussed the extension of the 48-hour travel ban with Britain but Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has already said it is unlikely to be lifted before Christmas.

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