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Taoiseach Micheál Martin in an address this evening. Julian Behal
new measures

'We need to act now': Taoiseach announces updated Covid-19 restrictions

The latest Covid-19 measures were announced in an address by the Taoiseach.

CHANGES TO CLOSING hours for hospitality and fresh advice to work from home unless absolutely necessary to attend in-person have been confirmed by the Taoiseach in an address this evening.

The new restrictions follow increasing concerns about the pressure on hospitals as a result of the current spread of Covid-19.

Speaking this evening, Micheál Martin said it is “increasingly clear that we are experiencing another surge of Covid infection” in Ireland. 

He said that this surge is “different” because of vaccinations, and without vaccines the country would be in a “full scale lockdown”. 

He said the changes to restrictions agreed by Cabinet today is the “appropriate response” to the unfolding situation. 

Politicians agreed at Cabinet this morning to require pubs, restaurants and nightclubs to have an earlier closing time of midnight effective from Thursday night. 

The move to limit the opening hours of hospitality comes less than a month after nightclubs had reopened following a 19-month closure.

Widening the use of the Covid certs across society will also be implemented, with passes required for entry into theatres and cinemas.

In a further move aimed at limiting the spread of the virus, anyone living in a household with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 will be asked to restrict their movements for five days. They will complete three antigen tests during this period. 

People are once again advised to work from home unless it is “absolutely necessary to attend in person” from Thursday night onwards.

The Taoiseach added that there will be an increased use of antigen tests in society. 

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) said it supports the updated advice on working from home. 

“We have to continue to be cautious given the levels of transmission and hospitalisation and the unremitting strain on our health workers,” ICTU general secretary Patricia King said.

King added that there should be an “urgent review” of the adequacy of supports for businesses in the night-life sector in order to ”guarantee jobs will be there for workers to return to when these restrictions are lifted”. 

The vaccine booster programme will also be extended to people aged 16-59 with underlying conditions and to all those aged 50 to 59. 

The HSE is planning to expand vaccination capacity further through pharmacies and vaccine centres.

The Taoiseach also confirmed that there will be no changes to today’s reduction in the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

Concerns were raised about the payment following the updated Covid-19 measures and particularly the earlier closing time for nightclubs.

But when asked about it tonight after he announced the measures, Martin said there is no plan to delay the cuts or renew the payment.

Speaking to reporters on his way into Cabinet this morning, Martin said the current situation is “very concerning” and that there is an obligation on everyone to reduce social interactions to help reduce incidence rates.

“The overall objective is to prevent people from getting very sick, going into hospitals, ICUs. We simply have to limit the increase we are experiencing at the moment,” he said.

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