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WHO warns people against gathering at Christmas as it is ‘not worth the risk’

The Taoiseach said yesterday that people in Ireland should expect new restrictions “before the new year”.
Dec 18th 2020, 8:19 AM 12,161 7

THE WORLD HEALTH Organization (WHO) has appealed to people to stay home during Christmas as it is “not worth the risk” of catching Covid-19.

The WHO said “the safest thing to do right now is to remain at home”.

The organisation’s regional director for Europe Dr Hans Kluge said: “There remains a difference between what you are being permitted to do by your authorities and what you should do.”

In a statement, he said: “We have a few more months of sacrifice ahead and can behave now in a way that collectively we are proud of.

When we look back at these unprecedented times, I hope we all felt we acted with a spirit of shared humanity to protect those in need.

Restrictions on household visits and inter-county travel changed today in Ireland. 

Two households are now permitted to visit a third and people are allowed to leave their county.

However, public health figures have urged the public in recent weeks to be sensible and keep their contacts to a minimum to limit the spread of Covid-19 over Christmas.

Yesterday, the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) made a recommendation to government about bringing in new measures later this month.

Measures agreed last month were put in place from different dates this month, with the final changes brought in from today. 

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin said last night that people should expect new restrictions “before the new year”. 

The government will make a final decision on the recommendations at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the possible restrictions could see restrictions on hospitality and further household visit restrictions. 

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However, non-essential retail, gyms and personal services would stay open.

“I know that’s a really hard thing to hear and a really difficult decision for people to take,” Varadkar said.

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.

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.

Varadkar said that the government would still give 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.

With reporting by Christina Finn and Press Association

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