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Explainer All you need to know about the Covid-19 restrictions lifting from midnight tonight


Restrictions will ease from tomorrow December 18 until January 7.

Restrictions will ease from tomorrow December 18 until January 7.

Restrictions will ease from tomorrow December 18 until January 7.

FROM midnight tonight, 12am on December 18, restrictions will ease for two weeks over the Christmas period.

Households will be allowed to mix with two other households in a private home, while travelling outside your county will also be permitted.

This will be allowed until January 6 when Level 3 restrictions, which we have seen in recent weeks, will be put back in place. However, this is subject to ongoing review and can be changed.

Despite talk that restrictions might not be eased for as long as two weeks due to the rising cases of Covid-19, nothing official has been announced.

For the Christmas period, from December 1, places of worship were allowed to reopen for services with a maximum of 50 people. However, this will be subject to review after the festive period ends in January.

On December 1, museums, galleries, cinemas and libraries reopened while restaurants and gastropubs were allowed reopen from December 4.

Indoor dining is currently allowed in these, however, customers are still required to purchase a substantial meal.

Wet pubs remain closed except for takeaway/delivery and no announcement has been made for when they may reopen.

Retail outlets remain open as the Government has now advised the public to wear masks in crowded outdoor places, such as town centres.

Previously, no visits to nursing homes were allowed under Levels 3, 4 or 5. However, since December 7 residents of nursing homes and other care facilities have been allowed one visit by one person per week.

According to the HSE, for the Christmas and New Year period, residents in nursing and care homes are allowed one extra visit. However, this is dependent on the residential and care home so visitors will have to speak to individual homes on this.

Critical and compassionate visits remain in place over the Christmas period. According to the HSE, extra visits will be accommodated under the following circumstances:

  • End of life
  • If a resident is very distressed or disturbed and a visit from someone close to them might help to calm them down
  • When there is an exceptionally important life event for the resident
  • When you may not have another opportunity to visit for many months or years, for example, because you are leaving the country or are approaching end of life
  • If a resident needs to see someone to make financial or other arrangements or to advocate on their behalf

Despite restrictions easing, the Department of Health and HSE is calling on the public to keep contacts as low as possible and practise health guidelines that have been in place all year.

HSE CEO Paul Reid said the best Christmas gift the public can give to healthcare staff is to protect themselves, as he is worried about a ‘lag’ effect in hospitals in the new year.

However, Mr Reid doesn’t agree that the easing of restrictions tomorrow should change and believes that it is still “within our own capability."

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