The Government has launched its plan to help the country live with Covid-19, saying that the entire country is at Level 2 of the five-level framework.
The plan will set out how the country will live with the virus for the next six to nine months.
The Cabinet signed off on the medium-term plan on Tuesday, with the Government saying the risk management strategy "is designed to allow individuals, families, businesses and services better understand, anticipate and prepare for the measures Government might introduce".
The Government said: "At all times the priority guiding the plan will be to keep our schools open, while keeping people safe and protecting the resilience of our economy and communities."
Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced that every county is currently at level two.
He said: "This is a plan which gives clarity of each of our responsibilities. It includes concrete measures and shows how we can limit impact of the virus while keeping schools open and protecting and expanding employment.
“The plan is broad and comprehensive. Protecting public health remains an absolute priority.
“The whole country is at level two restrictions.”
He said this will continue for another three weeks.
The Government said that different regions and counties can be at a different level to the national level.
Mr Martin also confirmed that a €600m winter package has been approved by Cabinet.
You can find out what each of the five different levels are here.
The Government said that at Level 2, “the majority of areas of economy and society, for example: schools, restaurants, pubs and gyms, are open.”
At Level 2, the public are being asked to limit the number of people they meet.
In homes and gardens, “visitors from one other household only or up to six visitors from two other households or three other households.
“This will be determined by the prevailing public health advice for the county or other defined geographical area.”
In other settings outside of a home or garden, “members of different households can continue to meet socially in other settings up to 6 people indoors, 15 outdoors from 1, 2 or 3 other households.”
Up to 50 people will be allowed to attend weddings and funerals.
In sport, there can be up to 100 fans at outdoors games.
There can be up to 200 fans at outdoor games at “venues with a minimum accredited capacity of 5,000”.
Training can take place in pods of up to 15 with an exemption for professional/elite/inter-county sports/senior club championship, while indoor training can take place in pods of six.
In Level 2, wet pubs can open from next Monday with robust protective measures in place, such as physical distancing in place and table service only being in use.
There are no restrictions on domestic travel and the public are again advised to work from home where possible.
Face masks or coverings must still be worn on public transport and in retail settings at Level 2.
People aged over 70 and people who are medically vulnerable “should exercise judgement regarding the extent to which they engage with others and in activities outside home”.
At Cabinet, ministers agreed to the following measures in relation to Dublin based on recommendations of NPHET:
- No more than 2 households should meet at any given time. People should only have visitors from 1 other household to their home. People can continue to socialise in indoor or outdoor public venues, but only with people from their own household or one other household, and in groups of no more than 6 people
- Pubs and bars (not serving food) in Dublin should not open on the 21st of September
- The exemption allowing a maximum of 200 patrons at certain outdoor venues with a minimum accredited capacity of 5,000 will not yet apply to venues in Dublin.
- Higher-level and further education institutions in Dublin should consider what enhanced protective measures are necessary to ensure safe recommencement of on-site activities
- Those living in Dublin should be encouraged to limit travel outside Dublin if possible, and when outside the county, they should not meet with more than one other household
Dublin has been placed on a level "somewhere between level 2 and level 3", a source told the Irish Examiner.
Under the plan, wet pubs in Dublin are to remain closed and limiting the number of visitors to homes will come into force from midnight tonight.
Last night, 208 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed with 108 of them located in Dublin.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he wanted to make a special appeal to the people of Dublin, explaining why extra restrictions were needed in the city.
“The situation in our capital is worrying and has deteriorated in the past few weeks,” he said.
“The level of the virus circulating in our city and county has increased more than tenfold in the past two months.
“The positivity ratio is around 3.5% against around 2% in the rest of the country.
“If this continues, it may not be possible to keep the virus out of our hospitals, nursing homes and factories no matter how hard we try.
“We’ll experience a second wave of hospitalisations, people needing admission to ICU and sadly more deaths.”
During Tuesday's press conference, Mr Martin was asked why Dublin was not classified at Level 3, rather than Level 2 with additional restrictions.
The Taoiseach said moving to Level 3 was a significant step and would result in major limitations on citizens.
He said the extra restrictions the Government was announcing for the city related to keeping the “wet” pubs closed when the rest reopened around the country on September 21.
He said people in Dublin would also not be able to attend sporting events in the same numbers permitted in the state’s other 25 counties.
Mr Martin said the numbers related to the virus in Dublin were “going in the wrong direction”.
“We’re very concerned about it,” he said.
“And that’s why we’re appealing to people in terms of their personal behaviour, in terms of household gatherings to keep them to the absolute minimum, reduce your contacts and adhere to the public health guidance in order to try and avoid getting to a Level 3 situation, which is very significant and has a very significant impact on people’s needs.”
It comes as Green Party leader and Minister for Climate Action Eamon Ryan restricts his movements, as a member of his household awaits a Covid-19 test.
He attended the Cabinet meeting via teleconference on Tuesday.
Speaking earlier, public health expert Dr Gabriel Scally said he is pleased to see that the Government is not adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach to Covid-19 restrictions.
Having a strategic plan was “buying time” and would help keep the virus from vulnerable people, he told Newstalk Breakfast.
Dr Scally pointed out that it was still unknown what long term effect the virus could have on children and their health. Anything could manifest itself in due course, he warned. If there was no vaccine for some time, then society would have to adopt a different approach and we would have to change the way we live, he said.
However, he was confident that there would be a vaccine as 180 different vaccines were being worked on.
“I am confident that science will come up with a solution.”