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*Photograph: John Mangan

NEW COVID-19 restrictions are to come into effect from Tuesday (December 7th) after the Government accepted the recommendations of NPHET.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin (FF) announced the measures on Friday evening in another state of the nation address. The recommendations were made by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and signed off on by Cabinet. They will last from December 7th to January 9th, at least.

Nightclubs which reopened for the first time in 600 days on October 22rd will have their doors shut again from December 7th.

Strict social distancing is to be enforced in all bars and restaurants, including hotels. Table service only will be permitted, as was the case prior to October 22nd. Tables must have one metre between them with a maximum of six adults per table. Multiple table bookings are not allowed and face masks must be worn when not at tables. A closing time of midnight remains in place.

Entertainment, cultural, community and sporting events are permitted a maximum of fifty percent capacity, all of which must be fully seated.

Gyms, leisure centres, hotel bars and restaurants must have proof of a COVID pass to allow entry.

NPHET has also advised that visits to private homes over the coming weeks should be kept to a maximum of three other households, for a total of four households, at one time.

Clare Senator, Timmy Dooley (FF) confirmed that the PUP payment is to reinstated for all those who lose jobs as a results of restrictions.

“Very stark advice” was issued by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan and public health experts, the Taoiseach stated when announcing the measures. He said the surge of the fourth wave has been stabilised but the reports of the new Omicron variant has prompted fresh worry among NPHET.

Martin outlined, “The CMO and our Public Health Experts have been exceptionally clear in their advice to Government. The risks associated with proceeding into the Christmas period without some restrictions to reduce the volume of personal contacts is just too high. I’ve always been straight with you as Taoiseach, that the protection of public health is the Government’s primary responsibility and that we will do whatever is needed to discharge that duty. This is not about going back to the days of lockdowns. It’s about adjusting the guidelines to meet the threat we face today and protecting the progress achieved to date”.

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