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'Act now' Taoiseach announces fresh rules including Covid pass for cinemas and working from home

He said “without the extraordinary vaccination programme, we would be in a full lockdown” and “we need to act now to deal with the surge”.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Hannah McKay/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Hannah McKay/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Hannah McKay/PA)

People will be asked to work from home and pubs, late night bars and nightclubs will have to close at midnight under the latest Government announcement on restrictions.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin is currently announcing the new measures, designed to curb spiralling virus numbers, to the nation in a televised address.

Mr Martin said the country is in the midst of the fourth wave of Covid infections.

"Continued progress in the journey to normal conditions is not inevitable," the Taoiseach said.

He said the return to work and increase in socialisation has led to a surge in hospitalisations.

"The surge we are now experiencing is a dramatic reminder of what this virus can do," he said.

"The range of measures we have agreed represent an appropriate response.”

He said “without the extraordinary vaccination programme, we would be in a full lockdown” and “we need to act now to deal with the surge”.

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Mr Martin said that everyone should work from home if possible.

“It is only our collective effort, full adherence to the rules that remain in place, making sure we are vaccinated and taking our booster when it becomes available, working from home if we're able to, wearing our masks, keeping our distance and being aware of our environment,” he said.

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"It is only this collective effort that will keep our society and economy open. That will sustain and maintain our progress and above all that will keep us healthy and safe.”

Here are all the details about the latest restrictions:

Closing hours

Cabinet Ministers agreed this morning on new closing hours for the hospitality sector.

Restaurants, pubs, late night bars and nightclubs will close at midnight, 12am, from Thursday night.

It comes mere weeks after nightclubs were allowed to reopen on October 22 for the first time since March 2020.

All customers will have to be out of the premises by 12am under the new rules.

Hotels are exempt from the curfew and guests will be able to remain in the hotel bar or restaurant past midnight.”

Back to work

The Government has been forced to do a u-turn on its phased return to office advice after the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) recommended in its letter last week that people should work from home where possible.

After a “grim” presentation by public health to senior ministers last night, the Government will now put a big emphasis on people working from home and only going into the office if it is absolutely necessary.

Covid pass

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan last week said that he was in favour of the Covid pass being extended beyond the hospitality sector and into sectors such as hairdressers, barbers and gyms.

However, Cabinet Ministers decided this morning that passes will be instead made mandatory for cinemas and theatres.

Currently, cinemas and theatres must have Covid passes in operation if they have 100pc capacity.

Ministers decided against extending the passes to beauty salons, hairdressers, barbers or gyms.

Household contacts

Fully vaccinated or unvaccinated household contacts of confirmed cases will have to restrict their movements for five days.

Currently, fully vaccinated close contacts of confirmed cases do not have to restrict their movements and are sent a pack of four antigen tests in the post.

New rules will mean that they will have to restrict their movements pending the outcome of three antigen tests.

Antigen tests

The Government is also currently working on an extensive campaign to subsidise antigen tests.

Close contacts of confirmed cases in schools will be sent antigen tests and they will also be subsidised nationwide. Currently, a pack of five rapid tests can cost up to €30 and above, with a single test costing as much as €7.

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