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Tuesday 28 November 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Julien Behal
christmas restrictions

Confirmed: Shops, restaurants and some pubs reopen next week, green light for household visits at Christmas

Taoiseach Micheál Martin made the announcement this evening.

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has confirmed that shops, restaurants, gyms and some pubs will reopen next week, and that its advice is that household visits will be allowed at Christmas. 

In a nationwide address this evening, Martin announced the Covid-19 restrictions that will replace Level 5, which has been in force since 22 October.

He said there had been a “massive national effort” to push back the disease.

“It hasn’t been easy. Many individuals and businesses have made huge sacrifices. And many more are totally fed up with Covid-19 and everything that has come with it over the past nine months.”

“I understand that feeling. Very often I share it.”

“It’s mentally exhausting,” he said. He said it can be easy to forget the magnitude of what we are fighting against; a virus that has killed more than 3,000 people in this island.

That is a terrible toll. And behind that number, there are many thousands of partners, children, siblings and friends who are grieving. There are also many people still struggling with the symptoms and after effects of Covid. We remember them; and the efforts and the sacrifices we have made over the course of this year, honours them.

He said the encouraging news is that those sacrifices are working and “lives have been saved”. 

The Taoiseach said the country will move to Level 3 from 1 December, with some modifications.

From next Tuesday 1 December, retailers, hairdressers, gyms, libraries, galleries and cinemas will reopen. People will be permitted to use tennis courts and golf courses, and religious services will also be allowed to resume. Theatres are to remain closed, the Taoiseach confirmed at a press conference after his address.

From Friday 4 December, restaurants and pubs with a kitchen on-site are to reopen, but with additional restrictions than before. Hotels will also be able to open to indoor diners. 

Pubs that only serve alcohol will not be permitted to reopen before Christmas, but will be allowed to serve takeaway drinks.

From Friday 18 December, restrictions on household visits will be lifted from a ban on household visits, to allow two households to visit a third. Inter-county travel will also be permitted from this date, until 6 January.

From 7 January, the measures put in place prior to 18 of December will apply, subject to ongoing review of the trajectory of the virus.

People are advised to continue to work from home unless it is absolutely necessary they attend in person. The Taoiseach said it has further been agreed that the use of facemasks is now recommended in crowded workplaces, places of worship and in busy or crowded outdoor spaces where there is significant congregation.

Earlier this week, the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) had advised the government against reopening restaurants and pubs that serve food before Christmas. Although the government didn’t heed this advice, it’s understood that it informed decisions around household visits during a two-week period over Christmas.

The Irish government is advising that there should be no hugs or handshakes with people over for Christmas, and that people should wear a face mask while visitors are over.

- With reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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