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Ireland returns to Level 5 restrictions on Christmas Eve

Ireland returns to Level 5 restrictions on Christmas Eve

Travel between the counties will be banned after 26 December

Alarmed by rapidly rising case numbers that prompt health experts to speak of a third coronavirus wave in Ireland, the Government decided today to put the country back to the highest Level 5 restrictions. The new measures will take effect on Christmas Eve and will last at least until 12 January. Certain exemptions will be made during the Christmas period, reported RTÉ.

Here are some of the main changes:

Restaurants and gastro-pubs (food-serving pubs), as well as hairdressers and barbers will close at 3 pm on Christmas Eve. Non-essential retail outlets can remain open.

Hotels may sell food and drinks to guests only after 3 pm on Christmas Eve, and after 26 December may only open to guests for essential purposes. Businesses that are forced to close on 26 December will receive a double rate of Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) for two weeks.

Household visits will be reduced from two to one other household from 27 December. From 1 January, no household mixing will be possible except for compassionate reasons and providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people.

No inter-county travel will be allowed after St Stephen's Day (26 December), meaning that people will have to stay within their county of residence. 

Religious services can take place on Christmas Day, but will move online from 26 December. However, places of worship will remain open for private supplicants.

The number of wedding guests will be capped at six from 3 January. Schools will return to normal in January after the Christmas break.

Amateur sports not allowed 

Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools can stay open for individual training only. Outdoor non-contact training is allowed in groups of maximum 15 persons. Golf and tennis clubs will remain open. Only professional matches/events can go ahead, and horse-racing and greyhound racing must proceed behind closed doors.  

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