A range of new restrictions have been introduced to slow the growth of COVID-19 cases, including the closure of schools and non-essential construction.
Announcing the new restrictions, the Taoiseach, Micheal Martin, emphasised that "truly enormous damage can be done if we let our guard down", while the Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, acknowledged that we are "facing into a really dark January".
According to the Minister for Education, Norma Foley, the measures in relation to schools "are to support society in doing what it needs to do". She emphasised that schools remain safe places, noting that between the end of August and late December, "75% of schools had no interaction with public health".
As part of the new restrictions, schools will be closed until February 1, however Leaving Cert students will be allowed to attend school for three days per week. It will be at each school's discretion which three days students attend.
The provision of special education (special schools and special classes) will resume on January 11.
Childcare services, including regulated childminders, will remain closed, with the exception of services for vulnerable children and the children of essential workers.
Meanwhile, all non-essential construction will cease at 6pm on January 8. Limited exceptions include essential health and social housing projects.
The new restrictions will also see no travellers from Great Britain or South Africa arriving into Ireland before January 9. After that date, all travellers from these locations must have a negative PCR COVID-19 test result carried out within 72 hours prior to arrival.
For more information on the new restrictions, click here.
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