The Taoiseach Micheál Martin has this evening announced the introduction of number of restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of Covid-19 amid concern about a high volume of cases of the virus and uncertainty around the potential threats posed by the Omicron variant.
In an address to the nation, Mr Martin said the Government had accepted recommendations from the National Public Health and Emergency Team to introduce the following restrictions:
- Nightclubs will close.
- There will be a maximum of 50% capacity at entertainment, cultural, community and sporting events, which must all be fully seated.
- Face masks must be worn at all times unless eating or drinking.
- Requirement for the Covid Pass will be required for gyms and leisure centres and hotel bars and restaurants.
- Strict social distancing will be required in all bars and restaurants, including hotels and they must all revert to the situation that was in place before 22nd October.
- Table service only
- 1 metre between tables
- A maximum of six adults per table
- There can be no multiple table bookings
- Masks must be worn when not at the table
- Closing time remains at midnight
In addition, NPHET has advised that visits to private homes over the coming weeks should be kept to a maximum of three other households (that’s four households in total) at any one time.
In his address, the Taoiseach said that while people had reduced social interactions, and helped stabilise a surge in cases that the daily case numbers remain high and that the initial information about the transmissibility of the Omicron variant is a cause for concern.
“The increased social mixing that normally comes with Christmas would put that under pressure in any case, but if Omicron takes hold and if it is more transmissible, the potential for a very serious crisis is obvious.
“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.”
Mr Martin acknowledged that “very many people in the hospitality and entertainment industries” would be bitterly disappointed by this news and will be fearing for their livelihoods.
“I want to reassure them that just as we have done since the beginning of the pandemic, the Government will stand by them and ensure that they have the financial supports necessary to weather this latest storm and to stay intact until we are out of it,” he said.
The Taoiseach also addressed young people and children in his speech to the nation saying that a lot has been asked of younger people over the last year and a half.
“You’ve had to spend less time with your friends, miss out on special occasions and you’ve been unable just to enjoy normality. Now we’re asking you to wear masks in school and soon we may be asking you to get vaccinated.
“Through it all, you have been extraordinary.
“You have done what you’ve been asked without complaint. And you have done it not for yourselves, but for your parents, your grandparents, your community and your country.
“You are a very special generation.
“Thank you for what you’ve done and what you continue to do.”