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Ireland to endure Level 5 restrictions for six weeks

Ireland to endure Level 5 restrictions for six weeks

Schools, construction and high-level sports can go on

Faced with a steady rise in coronavirus cases amid fears that Ireland’s health system will be overwhelmed, the government heeded the 4 October advice of its National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), placing the entire country under the highest, Level 5 restrictions for six weeks. The measures come into effect on Wednesday night and will stay until 1 December. The move, which was backed by opposition parties, was announced last night by Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheál Martin after a protracted Cabinet meeting.

Three-week lockdown not enough

NPHET has told the government that six months of Level 5 restrictions is the minimum timeframe to bring the infection rate firmly down. Its modelling suggested that a three-week lockdown would reduce the R rate to 0.5, and the number of daily new cases to 250-300. Releasing the reigns immediately afterwards, however, would catapult the daily number of cases to approximately 1 000 cases by mid-December.

With strict enforcement of the new measures, the government hopes that the country will move back to Level 3 restrictions or lower in December, well in time for Christmas.

Level 5 at a glance

  • Schools will remain open.
  • Construction will go on.
  • High-level sports such as rugby and horse racing can continue.  
  • Non-essential retail outlets and hairdressers will close.
  • Pubs and restaurants will switch to takeaway only. 
  • People will only be able to exercise within five kilometres of their homes.
  • Outdoor meetings will be confined to two households within the 5km limit.
  • Weddings will remain capped at 25 guests until 31 December.
  • People with prior earnings of EUR 400 will be getting EUR 350 a week under the renewed Pandemic Unemployment Payment scheme.

“We are in this together”  

Predicting that Covid-19 will be with us for the entire 2021, the Prime Minister said the Government cannot fight the virus alone and asked everyone to take this threat seriously. He added that new penalties for breaching the Covid-19 restrictions will be brought in soon.

"I understand the sense of disappointment, loneliness and despair this announcement will bring. Even as the winter comes in there is hope and there is light... If we pull together over the next six weeks we will be able to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way," said Martin, quoted by RTÉ.



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