Taoiseach confirms pubs and restaurants to close before New Year's Eve

Taoiseach confirms pubs and restaurants to close before New Year's Eve

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has confirmed that pubs and restaurants will be closed before New Year's Eve. Pic: Chan Walrus/Pexels

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has confirmed that pubs and restaurants will be closed before New Year's Eve.

Public health bosses have recommended the measures to Government in addition to increasing restrictions on household visits after Christmas.

It comes after the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) warned that cases of Covid-19 are accelerating faster than anticipated after restrictions were eased at the beginning of December.

On Friday, the Taoiseach said he would recommend to Cabinet that gastropubs and restaurants now close early.

He told Newstalk: "I don't want to pre-empt Government decisions obviously, because other ministers will have things to say as well. But yes, that's the route we'll be recommending to Cabinet.

"If we move early hopefully we can avoid the worst excesses of this virus and the impact it can potentially have on our health services."

Mr Martin said he still wanted people to have a "meaningful Christmas" but that had to be balanced against protecting public health.

He said: "We did go through six weeks of severe Level Five, that did work to such an extent that we have a low incidence of the virus going into Christmas.

"After six weeks there's only so much people can take and I think you have to balance that.

"Protecting life and public health is the overarching objective, and when you think there are vaccines on the way, why risk too much the lives of people, if we get this balance right we can get there...

"I said in October I wanted to give people a meaningful Christmas and that will happen.

"In terms of mental wellbeing and families meeting, that's important but people need to mind themselves."

There were 484 cases of Covid-19 and three more deaths linked to the virus reported in Ireland on Thursday.

200 patients with coronavirus were in hospital, including 31 in ICU.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan warned on Friday that all the key indicators are going in the wrong direction.

He told Newstalk: "We've set out an analysis which shows a pattern of infections which is giving significant concern to us.

"484 cases yesterday, I'm expecting an even bigger number today.

"All of the indicators, the number of people attending GPs, the number of people being referred for testing, the testing positivity rate, measures of the influenza-like illness rate, how much that's turning up in GPs, all of these are tracking up as well as the measurement of cases we have."

He added: "If you look at the last ten days or so since the measures changed in early December, we've seen a change now in the pattern of infection at around the time period we feared we might see."

Dr Holohan said that with the trends in cases "starting to accelerate", public health officials are convinced that further restrictions are necessary.

He said: "It gives us to the basis to say to Government that we're concerned, that we need to take action early to prevent this from leading to a much greater surge of infection in the early part of the New Year."

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