New restrictions take effect at midnight on Wednesday.
An Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced a raft of new measures aimed at slowing the worrying surge of Covid-19 cases across Ireland.
The ‘Level 5’ restrictions, first recommended by The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) a fortnight ago, were finalised at a Cabinet meeting this evening and will remain in place for a period of six weeks until December 1st.
“Many people have done everything that has been asked of them – but some have not.” said the Taoiseach.
While it is hoped that the government may be able to return the country to Level 3 before Christmas, it is not guaranteed and the situation will be reviewed in November.
Here are the main points announced tonight:
NEW TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS
The public has been asked to restrict movement to daily exercise within 5km of home. People from two households can meet outdoors.
All non-essential businesses, including barbers, hairdressers and other services, are to be closed for the coming weeks. Everyone advised to work from home.
SCHOOLS AND CRECHES
Both schools and creches are to remain open. The Taoiseach said teachers “deserve the gratitude of the entire nation.”
A new ‘support bubble’ concept will allow people who are living alone to pair with another household to prevent isolation and support mental health.
BARS AND RESTAURANTS
No seating permitted. Takeaway food or delivery only.
CONSTRUCTION SITES AND MANUFACTURING
Construction and manufacturing sites will be permitted to remain open during Level 5.
SPORTS AND FITNESS
GAA and certain ‘elite’ sports may continue with no spectators but gyms will be closed and group classes remain off the cards. Children can continue training in small pods.
Weddings can take place with a maximum of 25 guests until the end of 2020.
The ban on household visits will remain in place. The public is asked not to visit households or gardens outside of their own home, except in cases where they are providing childcare or visiting on compassionate grounds.
PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT PAYMENT: With more than 200,000 people set to be out of work for the next six weeks, the PUP has been restored to €350 for people earning more than €40 per week. A sliding scale of payments will be available to workers earning lower amounts.
‘A massive blow to retail’
With many retailers around the country relying on the Christmas trading period to stay open, Retail Ireland Director Arnold Dillon said the decision will be a massive blow for struggling businesses.
“Ireland is the only European country is actively looking at the level of nationwide retail restrictions that are in the pipeline for Ireland.” Mr Dillon said.
“The retail sector has radically transformed how it operates, with face masks, social distancing and other hygiene measures, to ensure a safe and highly controlled environment for customers and staff,”
“With only a fraction of Covid clusters linked to retail settings, it is crucial that policymakers set out the risk assessment that has informed this decision and a strategy for unwinding any measures introduced. Covid is going to be with us for some time and customers need ready access to the products they require on a regular basis,” he added.