What you need to know: New measures to cut rate of infection before Christmas

Taoiseach Micheál Martin last night announced new Covid measures, designed to curb spiralling virus numbers, in a televised address to the nation.

he restrictions are the Government’s attempt to reduce the spread of the virus in the lead-up to the Christmas period.

Here are all the details about the latest restrictions.

Closing hours

Cabinet ministers agreed on new closing hours for the hospitality sector.

Restaurants, pubs, late-night bars and nightclubs will close at midnight from tomorrow night.

It comes mere weeks after nightclubs were allowed to reopen, on October 22, for the first time since March 2020.

All customers will have to be out of the premises by 12am under the new rules.

Hotels are exempt from the curfew and guests will be able to remain in the hotel bar or restaurant past midnight.

When asked about hotel weddings and whether they would be able to go on past midnight, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the exemption was valid for hotel guests only.

Back to work

The Government has been forced to do a U-turn on its phased return to the office after the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) recommended in its letter last week that people should work from home where possible.

After a “grim” presentation by public health to senior ministers last night, the Government will now put a big emphasis on people working from home and going into the office only if it is absolutely necessary.

Covid pass

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan last week said he was in favour of the Covid pass being extended beyond hospitality and into sectors such as hairdressers, barbers and gyms.

However, Cabinet Ministers decided passes would be instead made mandatory for cinemas and theatres from midnight tomorrow.

Currently, cinemas and theatres must have Covid passes in operation if they have 100pc capacity.

Ministers decided against extending the passes to beauty salons, hairdressers, barbers or gyms.

Household contacts

Fully vaccinated or unvaccinated household contacts of confirmed cases will have to restrict their movements for five days.

Currently, fully vaccinated close contacts of confirmed cases do not have to restrict their movements and are sent a pack of four antigen tests in the post.

New rules will mean they will have to restrict their movements pending the outcome of three antigen tests.

Antigen tests

The Government is also working on an extensive campaign to subsidise antigen tests.

Close contacts of confirmed cases in schools will be sent antigen tests and they will also be subsidised nationwide.

Currently, a pack of five rapid tests can cost €30 and above, with a single test costing as much as €7.


People aged 50 to 59 and those with underlying conditions have now also been given the green light for a booster vaccine from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac).

According to the Taoiseach, around 2.2 million people are eligible for a booster shot. He said that GPs, vaccination centres and pharmacies would be used in administering the boosters.

Nursing home residents who are aged under 65, of whom there are around 18,000, will have mostly received their boosters by early to mid-December.

By the end of December, 135,000 healthcare workers under 60 years of age will have received their boosters.

Most people aged over 80 – around 161,000 – have got their booster jabs by now. People aged 70 to 79 will have got their boosters by the end of November to the middle of December.

Most people aged 60 to 69 will receive their boosters by the end of December, according to the Taoiseach.

Speaking to Irish media during a trip to Dubai, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Covid jab was likely to be a “three-course” vaccine.

Mr Varadkar stated that waning vaccine immunity was a “real concern” and that the three doses would be extended to “more people” in the coming weeks.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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Written by bourbiza

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