It’s hard to imagine we’re here again.
But with new cases of Covid-19 soaring across the country, vaccine protection waning, and Ireland’s hospitals struggling to cope with the number of patients requiring ICU care, the Taoiseach has outlined a raft of new restrictions in an attempt to stem winter infections.
A further 4,407 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the past 24 hours. As of 8am today, 614 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of whom 114 are in ICU.
“In the last 14 days, we have been notified of almost 55,000 cases of COVID-19. The only time we have had more cases in a 14-day period was in January this year, and, unfortunately, we do expect this figure to increase in the coming days,” said Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health.
“This case level is unsustainable. When incidence of disease is as high as this, we must all act as though we are close contacts and as though we are at risk of transmitting the virus to others.
State of the nation
Addressing the nation tonight, Michéal Martin confirmed a U-turn on pub opening hours was agreed in Cabinet today, with bars and nightclubs now required to shut up shop at midnight from Thursday night.
“Our hospitals and GPs are seeing huge increases in presentations of non-Covid care.” the Taoiseach said.
“We need to act now to deal with this surge.”
The new measures take into account a disturbing worst-case scenario wherein 400-500 people could end up needing intensive care by December when the virus is expected to peak.
Here are the main points from tonight’s announcement:
Work from home: On the advice of NPHET, anyone who had returned to the office is now advised to work from home wherever possible, starting Friday.
Pub closing hours: Starting on Thursday night, November 18th, all nightclubs, restaurants and pubs will be forced to close their doors at midnight. Legislation allowing outdoor drinking and eating is likely to be extended until May 2022.
Covid passes will be strictly required.
Restricting movements: Anyone who is a household contact of a person confirmed to have Covid-19 will be required to restrict their movements for five days pending completion of three recommended antigen tests.
Oddly, it seems teachers will be exempt from the five-day close contact rule.
Booster vaccines: As confirmed by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly today, boosters will be offered to all those aged 50-59, all remaining residents in healthcare facilities not covered previously and all those aged 16+ with underlying conditions.
Covid passes: You will now need a Covid pass to access a cinema or theatre.