Several new restrictions have been approved by cabinet today, which are to take effect from this Thursday, Christmas Eve.
Christmas Day is set to be relatively unaffected, however activity in the following days is set to be severely limited once again as Ireland enters Level 5 restrictions, with some adjustments.
The restrictions were announced by Taoiseach Micheal Martin in an address this afternoon.
“A lot of people will be receiving today’s news with a heavy heart. I know that I bring it to you with one. Each and every one of us need to remember that, while it may not seem like it, what we have done to date, and what we are doing now doing now is saving lives.
“Because of the sacrifices that so many are making, because of the restrictions we are accepting in our lives, many many people are alive today who would otherwise not be,” Martin said.
From 3pm on Christmas Eve, restaurants and pubs that serve food will also have to shut their doors, in addition to hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, galleries and cinemas.
From midnight on St Stephen’s Day, inter-county travel will be restricted, but there will be exemptions for people going home after the Christmas break. Hotels are also expected to close after December 26 for non-essential stays.
From December 27, people will only be allowed to have visitors from one other household in their home.
Christmas Day mass is likely to be the last mass of the year as worship will move online, and the travel ban to and from the UK has also been extended until December 31.
Non-essential retail is set to remain open, but shops will be asked to defer their annual sales. Gyms are also to remain open for individual training.
Cabinet was warned the number of new cases today will be over 900, which will be the highest number of cases since October.
The new measures will be reviewed on January 12th.
However, in positive news, it was confirmed to Ministers that 10,000 doses of the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine will arrive in Ireland next week. The first vaccines are to be administered on December 30.