Country to start moving to level 3 from Dec 1

"Will not be type of Christmas we are used to"
  • Deborah Condon

The country is to start moving to level 3 of the Government's COVID-19 plan from December 1, with some modifications.

Announcing the plan on Friday evening, the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, acknowledged that many individuals and businesses have made "huge sacrifices" in an attempt to push back the virus, while many more "are totally fed up with COVID-19 and everything that has come with it over the last nine months".

He said while it is "tough and mentally exhausting", it is important to remember that over 3,000 people have died on the island of Ireland as a result of the virus. He described this figure as a "terrible toll", and noted that many more people are still living with the symptoms and after-effects of COVID.

"However the encouraging news is that the efforts and the sacrifices that each of us has made is working. Lives have been saved. We now have the second-lowest infection rate in the EU. We have been able to achieve this because you have taken personal responsibility," he noted.

Mr Martin said that there has been "much speculation about what a meaningful Christmas will look like" and he insisted that the Government has considered carefully how to proceed. However, he added that this "cannot and will not be the type of Christmas we are used to".

From December 1, all non-essential retail can open, along with places of worship, museums, galleries and cinemas.

From December 4, restaurants, gastropubs and hotels can open for indoor dining. Wet pubs will not be allowed to reopen. Mr Martin acknowledged how "deeply frustrating" this will be for publicans and said that additional supports will be made available to them.

Guidance on masks has also been updated. From December 1, people will have to wear them outdoors on busy streets, and in places of worship and indoor workplaces.

People are being asked to stay in their county until December 18, to continue working from home where possible, and to avoid meeting up with other households.

Between December 18 and January 6, there will be a lifting of travel restrictions and people will be allowed to travel outside of their county. They will also be allowed to meet up with people from two other households.

Mr Martin insisted that the country can face into 2021 "with renewed hope", but reminded people that "every contact counts".

"If we want to stop the virus, we must continue to limit contacts outside of a small circle," he said.

He added that 2020 has been a remarkable year, during which people have shown "extraordinary resilience and we will come through this together".

For more details on what is allowed in the coming weeks, click here.

 


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