Taoiseach says level 5 will be reimposed if Covid cases spiral over Christmas

Taoiseach says level 5 will be reimposed if Covid cases spiral over Christmas

Brian Hennebery, of Hennebery Sports Tralee, getting ready to reopen next Tuesday. Picture: Domnick Walsh

The Government will "not be slow to act again" in imposing level 5 restrictions in January if Covid cases spike over Christmas, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has warned.

Announcing the easing of restrictions which will see retail, museums, galleries, cinemas, and libraries reopen with protective measures from next Tuesday, Mr Martin said people's behaviour will now be key to keeping the virus at bay.

Mr Martin said allowing pubs that do not serve food to trade would have resulted in a quick acceleration of Covid cases ahead of Christmas.

While restaurants and gastro-pubs will open for indoor dining from next Friday, so-called wet pubs must remain closed over the usually busy festive period.

"Just imagine the Christmas events that would happen ordinarily in all our lives, it doesn't take rocket science to figure out what would happen," Mr Martin said.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar announced that businesses will receive a "bonus week" of Covid-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) payments.

Three double weeks of CRSS payments amounting to up to €15,000 will be given to businesses, such as wet pubs and clubs, that are not allowed reopen in December.

On the issue of international travel, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said, by and large, people are deciding not to travel but  some "do have to come home", citing those with elderly parents.

Mr Martin warned there will be "risks attached" to allowing visits among three separate households and permitting people to travel outside their county from December 18.

He said everybody has to use their "own judgement", adding that we all have a "responsibility to others and every contact does matter".

He said that, overall, the National Public Health and Emergency Team had advised the level 3 but was "obviously concerned about hospitality" and the Government had to make a "judgement call" on it.

"There is also the need to balance the economic, social, and mental wellbeing as well. Of course, we have to monitor where the virus takes us after this. Some of this is on our hands in terms of how we behave," Mr Martin said.

"We will not be slow to act again. If anything, we have learned that by moving earlier than most European countries, we are in a much better place.

Mr Martin said measures will be examined again in January but that the Government could be looking at "a different type of restrictions if we had to move into more restrictions".

He said: "We will review this on January 6 in terms of new measures that we might have to take or indeed some of these reopenings could be sustainable, some of these sectors might not have to close again."

However, he signalled that non-essential retail would remain open in January.

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

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