Ireland has tightened its restrictions in a bid to curb a surge in Covid-19 cases, with the country’s rate of growth the fourth highest in Europe.
However, there have been calls for further clarity and claims that the new measures, which will be in place until September 13, are contradictory and confusing.
They include lower limits on indoor and outdoor events, with exceptions for weddings and mass, the moving of sport behind closed doors and fresh advice for people over 70.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the “harsh reality” is that recent trends and the spread of the virus are “very serious”.
“We are not close to the level and pace of the spread of the virus earlier this year, but we are at a point where we need to recommit ourselves to key behaviours and to accept additional controls,” he said.
“The evidence is that a large number of people are acting as if the virus is no threat to them, or that it’s okay to take a few more risks, and many people seem to believe that if those they are socialising with have no symptoms, there is no problem.
“If the current increase continues, it will be impossible to stop the spread of the virus to our most vulnerable and most compromised and the virus is as deadly today as it was before.”
But Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould has called on the Government to give people real clarity, describing the latest measures as “contradictory and confusing”.
Under the new public health guidance, all businesses should continue to allow remote working where possible.
- All outdoor events have been limited to 15 people, and indoor gatherings to six people, down from 50.
- Weddings and Masses have been excluded from the updated restrictions.
- Restaurants and cafes, including pubs which are currently acting as restaurants, can remain open — but with a mandatory closing time of 11.30pm.
- Sports events and matches are to revert to being held behind closed doors, with no spectators allowed.
- There should also be strict avoidance of social gatherings before and after games or fixtures.
- Indoor training should be limited to 6 people and outdoor training should be limited to 15 people.
- Public transport should be avoided where possible, and — if you are travelling in a car or other vehicle with someone from outside your household — it is recommended that you wear a face covering.
- Those aged over 70 have been advised to limit their interactions to a small network for short periods.
- Gardaí may also be given new powers to tackle breaches of social distancing rules in restaurants, bars, and private homes.