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Government expected to introduce Level 5 restrictions nationwide until December

It is understood schools and creches will remain open, and elite level sports can also continue under the plan.

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(PA)

(PA)

(PA)

The Government is expected to sign off on level 5 restrictions for six weeks in a bid to combat the spread of Covid-19, PA understands.

A Cabinet meeting is under way at Government Buildings in Dublin where ministers are considering a proposal to move the entire country to the highest level of restrictions under the Government’s Living with Covid-19 plan until December 1.

It is understood schools and creches will remain open, and elite level sports can also continue under the plan.

Construction will also be allowed to continue.

But most non-essential retail, hairdressers, barbers and salons will have to close.

The public will be asked to work from home except for essential workers, and pubs, restaurants and cafes will only be able to provide takeaways and deliveries.

Funerals will be limited to 10 people and a maximum of six people can attend a wedding.

Cabinet ministers are also considering whether to ask people to restrict their movements to within five kilometres of their home.

It comes amid a record number of cases recorded over recent days.

A further 1,031 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed by the National Public Health Emergency Team on Monday, bringing the total to more than 50,000 for the first time.

No new deaths linked to the virus were reported.

Of the new cases, 235 were in Dublin, 232 in Cork, 60 in Galway, 47 in Limerick, 47 in Kerry, and the remaining 410 cases were spread across 21 counties.

As of 2pm on Monday afternoon, 298 people with Covid-19 were in hospitals – including 34 people in intensive care units.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) on Thursday recommended moving to Level 5 of the Covid-19 restrictions framework for six weeks.

It was the second time in a fortnight that public health officials had advised the Government to move to Level 5.

Currently counties Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan are at Level 4, while the rest of the country is at Level 3.

Political leaders received briefings from health officials in Dublin on Saturday about their concerns over the recent rapid spread of the virus.

The Cabinet sub-committee met this morning to discuss Nphet’s latest advice.

The leaders of the Government parties also met this morning to discuss the final details of the plan.

A formal announcement outlining the new measures is expected to be made late this evening.

Earlier Transport Minister Eamon Ryan indicated that any new restrictions will not be introduced immediately saying “you don’t just flick a switch”.

Asked about a timeline for introducing new measures as he arrived for a sub-Cabinet meeting on Monday, he said: “We’ll decide that.

“I think one of the lessons previously is you don’t just flick a switch, you have to give people a wee bit of notice. But Cabinet will have to decide that.”

Green Party leader Mr Ryan said he hoped the decisions reached today would give clarity to the public.

He said: “I hope there can be because that’s the important part of it. The Tanaiste put it right the other day,  you need a series of indicators, but that will be for Cabinet to decide. ”

He also defended the length of time Government has taken to act on Nphet’s advice to move to level five restrictions for six weeks, which were delivered to Health Minster Stephen Donnelly on Thursday.

“I think it’s getting things right. It’s complicated, there’s a huge amount of implications for people’s everyday lives.

“I think it’s appropriate that we try and get the arrangements and the details right in that time.”

Minister of State Colm Brophy said a “clear statement” from Government would be made at about 9pm on Monday.

“This is a very major set of decisions which have to be made and obviously it is to get them right,” he said.

He added that the Government wanted to get the balance right between keeping the country open and functioning but also protecting public health.

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Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health, was among the Nphet members to brief political leaders over the weekend (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health, was among the Nphet members to brief political leaders over the weekend (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health, was among the Nphet members to brief political leaders over the weekend (Brian Lawless/PA)

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said that social supports must be put in place.

She also called for the cuts to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) to be fully restored.

Ms McDonald told RTE’s Morning Ireland that changes to the restrictions must be “balanced” and clearly communicated.

She added: “I think that reality shapes all other decisions, that reality of keeping people well and safe and alive, quite frankly, and ensuring that people who are going to really struggle and are worried sick, that the State acts to restore the PUP and the Wage Subsidy Scheme.

“(And) reinstates an absolute ban on evictions and and that mortgage holders are not left at the mercy of banks.”

Online Editors


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