Country to move to level 5 on Wednesday night

Schools, construction to remain open
  • Deborah Condon

The country is to move to level 5 of the Government's COVID-19 plan from midnight on Wednesday.

The restrictions will remain in place for six weeks.

Making the announcement, the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, said that people have already "sacrificed so much".

"The Government cannot stop this virus alone and while many have done everything that has been asked of them, some have not", he noted.

He said he wanted to "lay out the rationale" behind Cabinet's decision to move to level 5, explaining that both NHPET and the Government do not support a zero COVID approach or a herd immunity approach.

He said that Ireland currently has some of the strictest restrictions in Europe, but these have not been enough and "further action is required".

As part of these level 5 restrictions, schools will remain open, as will construction - both of which closed during the lockdown earlier in the year.

Speaking specifically about the decision to keeps schools and creches open, Mr Martin said that the Government "cannot and will not allow young people's futures to be another victim of the disease".

Meanwhile, people will be asked to stay at home as much as they can and go no further than 5km from home for exercise.

There will be no social or family gatherings allowed in people's homes or gardens. However the idea of a social bubble will be allowed for people who may be particularly isolated, such as those living alone or single parents. They will be able to "pair up" with another household.

Level 5 will also see the closure of non-essential retail outlets, as will businesses such as hairdressers. Pubs and restaurants will only be allowed to serve takeaway, but there is good news for people getting married. Weddings will be allowed to have 25 guests. Originally, level 5 only allowed for six guests.

The Government has also announced that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will be restored to €350 per week for those who previously earned €400 or more per week. Last month, this payment was cut to €300.

Mr Martin acknowledged that these are the "toughest of times" but he called on people to "dig deep", adding that "we must persevere".

Earlier this evening, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 exceeded 50,000 for the first time, when a further 1,031 cases were confirmed. This brings the total number of cases here to 50,993.

No new deaths were recorded, leaving the total number of deaths at 1,852.

Of the 1,031 new cases, 235 occurred in Dublin, 232 in Cork, 60 in Galway, 47 in Limerick and 47 in Kerry.

As of 2pm on Monday, 298 people with confirmed COVID-19 were in hospital, 34 of whom were in ICU. Twenty additional hospitalisations had taken place in the previous 24 hours.

"If you have symptoms of COVID-19, if you are waiting for a test result or if you are a confirmed case, you must self-isolate for 10 days from when you first develop symptoms. Self-isolation means staying in your room, away from other members of your household.

"If you live in a house with a confirmed case do not go to work or school. You must stay at home and restrict your movements for 14 days," commented the chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan.

For more information on what level 5 means for you, click here.


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