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Season's fleeting Taoiseach Micheal Martin under pressure to move to Level 2 for Christmas

Level 2 would allow people to travel between counties and have more visitors to their homes over Christmas.


Henry Street Christmas lights

Henry Street Christmas lights

Henry Street Christmas lights

Taoiseach Micheál Martin is coming under pressure to move the country into Level 2 restrictions for Christmas.

Mr Martin told the Dáil his target is to move to Level 3 Covid-19 regulations after the lockdown. However, hours later he faced calls from his own party members to ease restrictions even further for Christmas.

Under Level 3 there can be visitors to a home from one other household while pubs and cafes are restricted to takeway and outside service.

People would need to stay in their own county except for essential purposes. Religious services are online.

However, Level 2 would allow people to travel between counties and have more visitors to their homes over Christmas.

Speaking at a Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting last night, TDs and senators called for Level 2 restrictions to be in place when the six-week national lockdown ends at the start of December.


Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

TD Cormac Devlin said people have made “tremendous sacrifices” during the Level 5 national lockdown and said subject to public health advice, the Government should be “at Level 2 with tweaks to allow people have some sort of Christmas".

Dublin South-West TD John Lahart told the meeting that if six weeks of "sacrifice" was followed by Level 3 rules being imposed, it would be "hugely demoralising."

Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne said there should be emphasis on personal responsibility at Christmas but said if the regulations are too restrictive people will flout them.

Sligo Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry said the country is doing well in bringing virus levels down and the target should be Level 2.

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Meanwhile, a surge in cross-border pre-Christmas shopping trips looms as Northern Ireland moves to signal that it is open for business.

The four-week circuit-breaker lockdown in the six counties is due to end in the early hours of tomorrow morning – but last night Stormont talks on whether the measures would be relaxed or extended for another week ended without agreement.

With three more weeks of the Republic’s strict Level 5 lockdown to go, there is concern a trail of shoppers will head across the Border again as uncertainty remains over how much business will resume here from early December.

It comes as the daily toll of Covid-19 in the Republic continued to show growing control of the virus, with 362 cases yesterday. But there were two more deaths.

However, Donegal is continuing to lag behind and its 14-day incidence rate rose yesterday to 300.9 per 100,000, up from 284.6 per 100,000 the previous day.

Lifford GP Dr Martin Coyne warned that “we will have a real problem in Donegal” if the restrictions in Northern Ireland are relaxed with the county suffering “the spillover effect."

The number of Covid patients in hospital was stable at 280 yesterday with 38 in intensive care.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: “The profile of the disease is improving and, while this is a positive trend, it does not mean it is time to take a step back from our adherence to public health guidelines."

He urged everyone to “redouble their efforts” this week and try to have fewer close contacts than last week.

"Self-isolating is a vital measure in our efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19,” he said.

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