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Tánaiste warns: 'If we wait until 6 January, restrictions might be tougher and go on for longer'

A new lockdown in January had been suggested, but the government is warning that the restrictions may come sooner than expected.

Image: Sam Boal

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has said that NPHET recommended imposing new restrictions between Christmas and New Year – a proposal which will be considered by Cabinet on Tuesday. 

Varadkar said that they would use the next four days to see if the worrying figures of increasing Covid-19 cases stabailise before making a decision on implementing new restrictions.

“I know that’s a really hard thing to hear and a really difficult decision for people to take,” he said on RTÉ’s Prime Time.

But if we don’t do that, and we wait until, say, 3 January or 6 January, then the restrictions that we reimpose might have to be tougher and might have to go on for longer – and we don’t want that.

It’s understood that NPHET recommended new restrictions for Monday 28 December. 

Outlining what possible restrictions there could be, Varadkar said:

  • Restrictions on hospitality would return – that’s bars and restaurants
  • Limiting visits of one household to another household but not a total ban on household visits
  • Non-essential retail, gyms and personal services would stay open.

 

Sources have also indicated that it would be a return to Level 3 restrictions, and that the advice would be to stay in your county with one household visit only.

The government is aiming to delay imposing new restrictions until 30 or 31 December, but it will be dependent on the number of Covid-19 cases and how they’re progressing.

Varadkar said that the government would still give businesses 7-10 days’ notice to businesses, even if the decision is taken on Tuesday. That date would bring us up to 29 December – 1 January.

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On the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine, Varadkar said that mass vaccination facilities won’t be ready until March or April.

“Realistically, the next three months in Ireland are going to be similar to last nine months, however from April onwards I think we will start to see a critical mass of people being vaccinated.”

With reporting from Christina Finn

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