Omicron cases are ‘exploding’ across Europe.
That was the grave message from An Taoiseach Micheál Martin this evening as he announced a fresh round of coronavirus restrictions signed off in Cabinet this evening, effective from Monday, December 20th until they are reviewed on January 30th, 2022.
“It is here. It is in our country. We’re going to see a massive rise in infections.” the Taoiseach said, adding that the need to “act fast” is clear.
Just one week out from Christmas Eve, a further 3,628 additional cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed this evening, with 420 patients are in hospital, 105 of whom are in intensive care (ICU).
More than 35% of reported cases are now due to the Omicron variant, which NPHET has warned could soon engulf the health service, causing up to 20,000 new infections daily by January.
Here are the key points from the Taoiseach’s public address:
- Hospitality curfew: Pubs and restaurants will be required to close their doors at 8pm, three hours later than the 5pm curfew widely reported over the past 24 hours.
- Indoor events: Daytime attendance will be capped at 50 percent or 1,000 people, no events after 8pm.
- Sporting events: Attendance will be reduced by 50 percent and capped at 5,000.
- Weddings: Guest numbers will be limited to 100 with a midnight curfew for celebrations.
- Close contacts: Restrict movements for five days (with a booster) or ten days (without a booster)
- Travel: All incoming passengers must complete antigen testing for five days after arrival.
‘Omicron is coming when we are at our most vulnerable’
In a tweet sent earlier this afternoon, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar painted a grim picture of what’s in store for Ireland’s struggling health service.
“We were winning the fight against Delta. Now Omicron is coming when we are at our most vulnerable – winter, Christmas, flu season. It’s a cruel virus.”
“We’re all feeling anger, frustration, dismay, depression but that cannot deflect us from making the right decisions to keep our people safe” he added.
Omicron beginning to show in the figures, unfortunately. Highest daily number of positive laboratory swabs since January if not ever pic.twitter.com/uAGuG9o85K
— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) December 17, 2021