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latest Ireland to return to Level 5 from Christmas Eve as 2,000 cases per day expected by New Year's

  • Barbers and hairdressers will be asked to close their doors on Christmas Eve
  • Pubs and restaurants will be asked to close from 3pm on Christmas Eve.
  • Inter-county travel will be restricted after St Stephen's Day.
  • Travel is permitted until Midnight on this day. People can remain where they are after this date, but can travel home at a later date.
  • Retail will remain open but government are to interact with shops to ensure no major sales take place after Christmas.
  • Household visits will be reduced to one other household after St Stephen's Day and will be banned from the New Year.
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    Taoiseach Micheál Martin (PA)

    Taoiseach Micheál Martin (PA)

    Taoiseach Micheál Martin (PA)

    Ireland will introduce fresh lockdown measures from Christmas Eve amid fears the new variant of coronavirus is a factor in spiralling infection rates.

    Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the Government was acting “quickly and aggressively” to try to suppress the soaring case numbers.

    Ireland is returning to the highest level of its Covid-19 response – Level 5 – with some adjustments, such as allowing shops to remain open.

    The measures will initially remain in place until January 12.

    Restaurants and gastropubs are asked to stop serving at 3pm on Christmas Eve.

    Non-essential retail will stay open but are asked not to hold January sales events.

    Hotels can stay open for non-tourist purposes.

    Schools will remain open.

    Adult education services and third-level education are asked to be remain online.

    Micheal Martin said: "Every time I have spoken to you, I have made it clear that my number one priority is to protect public health and for that reason the government has agreed to move quickly" and to meet the renewed threat of Covid-19 head on.

    "A lot of people will be receiving today's news with a heavy heart, and I know I am bringing this news to you with one."

    He said that due to the restrictions that Irish people have put on their lives, there are "many alive today that otherwise would not be".

    "As a country we have managed to sustain one of the lowest rates of Covid-19 mortality in all of Europe".

    The Taoiseach said the vulnerable will pay "a heavy price" if the virus is left to spread unchecked.

    He added that there has been "extraordinary growth" in the spread of the virus in the last week, the same pattern which has been seen in the UK and Europe.

    "This morning, figures suggest we may be seeing a daily growth rate of 10pc."

    He described this as "very concerning."

    "The rate of growth tells me the safest thing to do is to proceed under the assumption that it is already here", Mr Martin said.

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