| 13.7°C Dublin

Revealed Full details of how Covid-19 restrictions will be eased for Christmas period


Taoiseach Micheal Martin outside Government Buildings this evening, after he addressed the nation

Taoiseach Micheal Martin outside Government Buildings this evening, after he addressed the nation

Taoiseach Micheal Martin outside Government Buildings this evening, after he addressed the nation

Ireland will move into a Level 3 lockdown, with some 'modifications', Taoiseach Micheal Martin has confirmed.

In a speech tonight, the Taoiseach said "this Christmas cannot and will not be the kind of Christmas we are used to" but admitted it will be a special time when "Irish people can enjoy some respite from the hardships of 2020".

From 4 December, the restrictions on parts of the hospitality sector will be lifted, with restaurants and pubs operating as restaurants, described as "serving a substantial meal", being allowed to reopen for indoor dining.

Also, over a three-week period between 18 December and 6 January, the restrictions on home visits will be eased to allow families meet over the festive season.

Households can mix with up to two other households and travelling outside your county will be permitted.

Speaking tonight, Micheal Martin praised the efforts of the Irish public.

"Almost six weeks ago, I stood here and talked with you about what urgent action we needed to take together to drive down high and rising Covid infection rates.

"At that stage, we were seeing the success of Level 3 restrictions in slowing the spread of the disease.

"However, it was essential to go further to drive down infection rates at a moment when Europe was facing a major surge.

"And so, in the days after, together we moved into another massive national effort to isolate and push back the disease.

"It hasn’t been easy. Many individuals and businesses have made huge sacrifices.

"And many more are totally fed up with Covid-19 and everything that has come with it over the past nine months.

"I understand that feeling. Very often I share it."

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

However, the Taoiseach confirmed wet pubs will not reopen yet.

"Nothing in the research available to Government supports the opening of the so-called wet pubs at this stage. I know how deeply frustrating this must be for business owners in this sector.

"I fully accept their goodwill around adhering to guidelines, but opening the hospitality sector comes with risks and there is only so far we can safely go."

"Museums, galleries, cinemas and libraries with protective measures in place will reopen on December 1," Mr Martin said.

However, he also said the restrictions on returning to workplaces will remain.

"People must stay within their county unless it is for work, education and other essential purposes until December 18 - and people should continue to work from home unless it is absolutely necessary.

"Households should not mix with other households outside of their bubble until December 18, when these restrictions will be eased until January 6."

Deputy Martin also said that people should not get complacent and dismiss the terrible human cost of the Covid-19 virus.

"Tonight, as I speak to you, this virus has killed more than 3,000 people on our island. That is a terrible toll.

"And behind that number, there are many thousands of partners, children, siblings and friends who are grieving.

"There are also many people still struggling with the symptoms and after-effects of Covid.

"We remember them; and the efforts and the sacrifices we have made over the course of this year, honours them.

"The encouraging news is that the efforts and the sacrifices that each of us has made, is working.

"Lives have been saved.

"We learned key lessons from the first wave and through this great national effort, we have pushed the virus back to the point where we now have the second lowest infection rate in the European Union."

The Government has updated its guidance on facemasks, asking people to wear them outdoors on busy streets and in crowded indoor workplaces, as well as places of worship.

"In easing restrictions, we are going only as far as we believe it is possible to achieve the best balance possible, and no further. The Government and I are satisfied that the new arrangements strike a safe balance between maintaining the pressure on the disease while making space for loved ones, family and friends to be together this Christmas," the statement read.

The Government also listed details of the changes that will come into effect from 1 December.

They include:

  • Weddings with up to 25 guests are permitted (same as current provisions).
  • Funerals with up to 25 mourners are permitted (same as current provisions).
  • No organised indoor events should take place, other than as provided below.
  • Gatherings of 15 people may take place outdoors.
  • Non-contact training may take place outdoors in pods of 15.
  • Only individual training should take place indoors and no exercise or dance classes are permitted.
  • No matches/events may take place except professional and elite sports, approved inter-county Gaelic games, horse-racing and approved equestrian events, all behind closed doors.
  • Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools may reopen for individual training only.
  • Nightclubs, discos and casinos should remain closed.
  • Hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs may open with services limited to residents only.
  • Non-essential retail and personal services may reopen.
  • People should continue to work from home unless absolutely necessary to attend in person.
  • Public transport capacity is limited to 50%

From 1 December:

  • Households should not mix with any other households outside those within their bubble;
  • People should stay within their county apart from work, education and other essential purposes;

While from 4 December:

  • Restaurants and pubs operating as restaurants (serving a substantial meal) may reopen for indoor dining with additional restrictions, (including requirement for meals to be prepared on site, inside the premises). This includes access for non-residents to restaurants in hotels.
  • Higher, further and adult education should remain primarily online

Also from 1 December:

  • Places of worship to reopen for services with restrictive measures, subject to review in January
  • Museums, galleries, and libraries to reopen
  • Cinemas to reopen
  • Wet pubs to remain closed except for takeaway/delivery

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Online Editors