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Taoiseach: People should expect further Covid-19 restrictions 'before New Year's Eve'

Micheál Martin was speaking amid concern over rising cases of Covid-19.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin
Taoiseach Micheál Martin
Image: RTÉ

Updated Dec 17th 2020, 8:43 PM

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said the government will not be changing the Covid-19 restrictions regime for Christmas but that people should expect new restrictions “before the new year”. 

Martin’s comments come amid rising Covd-19 rates and the announcement of a fresh lockdown in Northern Ireland from St. Stephen’s Day. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One News this evening, Martin said that the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has recommend new restrictions and that the government will make a final decision on this on Tuesday. 

He said however that people can expect further restrictions “towards the end of the year”. 

I think before New Year’s Eve is how I would put it. Obviously the timing of that and the specific nature of the restrictions would have to be decided on by government, I’m not going to preempt a government decision, but we’re very mindful of what NPHET will say to us in this regard. And as I said we want to protect the hospital system. 

Under the plans for Christmas that were previously agreed by government, intercounty travel and household mixing up to three households is permitted from tomorrow until 6 January. 

Martin said this evening that NPHET has essentially recommended that this period after Christmas be shortened. 

“I did speak to the CMO today, and NPHET will be recommending to government that we would bring in restrictions before the end of the year. In other words, the anticipated period of going from tomorrow to 6 January will be shortened,” the Taoiseach said.

“And also that NPHET will be recommending restrictions in relation to hospitality, before the end of the year. So concerned are they in relation to the rising numbers. And also, restricting household visits to one before the end of the year, so that one household can visit another.”

The prospect of a new restrictions after Christmas was previously raised by the Taoiseach a number of weeks ago should cases of the coronavirus rise. 

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NPHET this evening confirmed 484 new cases of Covid-19 in this country and three further deaths.  

Easing of restrictions for Christmas

As of tomorrow, a number of changes will be implemented in Ireland’s Covid-19 restrictions for the festive period, which are designed to support people to have a meaningful Christmas. 

“It will be a different Christmas, it has to be, but hopefully these temporary exceptions to Level 3 restrictions reflect government’s appreciation for the deep innate desire we have to be with close ones at this time of year – this year of all years,” Martin said in a statement this evening. 

I am asking everyone to think, and think again, about how they are planning to spend the Christmas period, to prioritise those closest to you and otherwise, to keep your contacts and socialisations as low as possible. 

Although more interactions are permitted temporarily, the advice from government remains the same – to keep contacts as low as possible and to prioritise a small number of key activities. 

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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