Pubs and restaurants set to be closed from December 30 

Pubs and restaurants set to be closed from December 30 

"That is very serious for the hospitality sector, that I acknowledge and Government stands ready to support the hospitality sector during this very, very difficult period," the Taoiseach said. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has confirmed that pubs and restaurants will be closed before New Year's Eve, with December 30 understood to be the planned closing date. 

It is believed the Government are considering plans to allow travel between counties up until and including January 6. 

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."

Addressing a media conference after Friday's North South Ministerial Conference on Friday afternoon, Mr Martin said the Government was "minded" to follow Nphet advice.

Addressing a media conference after Friday's North South Ministerial Conference on Friday afternoon, Mr Martin said the Government was "minded" to follow Nphet advice.
Addressing a media conference after Friday's North South Ministerial Conference on Friday afternoon, Mr Martin said the Government was "minded" to follow Nphet advice.

"We're very minded to accept the advice that Nphet has given us in terms of bringing forward that date to before the New Year's Eve, which will involve additional restrictions on hospitality," he said.

He added: "That is very serious for the hospitality sector, that I acknowledge and Government stands ready to support the hospitality sector during this very, very difficult period," he added.

The Taoiseach said it was intended that non-essential retail outlets could remain open over new year.

Mr Martin said the Government had made clear it would move to impose further restrictions if case numbers started to rise.

"And the numbers are rising because of increased mobility and a whole range of reasons obviously during the festive season and the lead up into it. I think there is a desire on Nphet to avoid exacerbating that even more with New Year's Eve and given what has happened in Thanksgiving in the US and in Canada and indeed with other festive occasions in other countries. So that's where the Government is right now - pretty much disposed to moving in accordance with the advice that we're receiving from Nphet."

There were 582 cases of Covid-19 and six more deaths linked to the virus reported in Ireland on Friday.

Some 198 patients with coronavirus were in hospital, including 34 in ICU.

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

Dr Holohan said: "Over the past week, we have expressed significant concern that the level of infection was deteriorating day on day. The data today adds further evidence that the situation is getting worse more rapidly than we expected.

"The country simply cannot cope with this level of infection as we head into Christmas week. With vaccines offering hope in the coming months for our most vulnerable groups, we want to keep them alive and well so that they can receive it.

"Each one of us must do all we can to protect public health - cut your contacts, see only those you need to see. Choose to socialise safely, outdoors if possible. If you see a crowd, avoid it.

"By choosing to act safely right now, together we can limit the impact this disease will have in the weeks and months to come - and in doing so, we can protect the vulnerable and prevent unnecessary deaths."

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