Cabinet agrees schools will close on Monday with Leaving Cert students to do three day week

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Digital Desk Staff

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced that all schools must remain closed with teaching to move online.

The only exemptions will be for children with special needs and Leaving Certificate students who will return for three days a week.

The Government also announced that Youthreach services will resume as scheduled as well as the resumption of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme is delayed until February 1st.

Speaking at briefing this afternoon, the Taoiseach also announced that crèches and other childcare services will remain open but only for vulnerable children and the children of essential workers.

As the Irish Examiner reports, the measures are being introduced to reduce mobility across the country, amid fears that the health service is reaching a breaking point as regards the numbers of Coronavirus patients in hospitals.

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Speaking at the briefing, the Taoiseach said: “We must dig deep within ourselves and face the coming month with steely determination and resolve.

“We have risen to all the challenges that have presented themselves… we may now be entering the most challenging phase of all

“Unless you are involved in absolutely essential work you have no reason to be away from your home,” he said.

Construction

Regarding construction, the Cabinet agreed that all construction sites, apart from those deemed to be critical infrastructure such as schools and some social housing projects, will close from 6pm on Friday until January 31st.

Construction will close from 6pm on Friday, January 8th, with limited exceptions which include:

  • essential health and related projects including those relevant to preventing, limiting, minimising or slowing the spread of COVID-19
  • social housing projects, including voids, designated as essential sites by Local Authorities based on set criteria
  • housing adaptation grants where the homeowner is agreeable to adaptions being undertaken in their home
  • repair, maintenance and construction of critical transport and utility infrastructure
  • education facilities sites designated as essential by Department of Education
  • supply and delivery of essential or emergency maintenance and repair services to businesses and places of residence (including electrical, gas, plumbing, glazing and roofing services) on an emergency call-out basis
  • certain large construction projects in the exporting / FDI sector based on set criteria

Retail

Regarding retail services they have said that all non-essential services remain closed.

They said that click and collect from non-essential retail outlets should no longer be permitted with immediate effect.

Existing orders may be collected, but Click and deliver will continue to be permitted.

Social and family gatherings

They said that no visitors are permitted in private homes or gardens except for essential family reasons such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, or as part of a support bubble.

No social or family gatherings should take place in other settings are permitted.

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They said no organised indoor or outdoor gatherings should take place.

International travel

The current travel moratorium in place for travel from Great Britain and South Africa is extended until midnight Friday January, 8th 2021.

Minister Eamon Ryan announced at the briefing this evening that from January 9th, all passengers arriving at Irish airports and ports whose journey originates in Great Britain or South Africa will be requested to have evidence of a negative result from a PCR Covid-19 test (Covid-19 not detected) taken up to 72 hours prior to arrival in Ireland.

Essential supply chain workers will be exempt from the requirement to have evidence of a negative PCR Covid-19 test result.

An exemption from the requirement to have evidence of a negative test result can also be considered in exceptional and urgent humanitarian cases, particularly related to an emergency medical need for the person or his/her child.

There will also be an exemption for the Garda Síochána in the exercise of their functions and officials carrying out public service duties.

Financial supports

Tánaiste Leo Varadker also said at the briefing that the Government has decided to maintain the payments available under both the Employment Wage Support Scheme (EWSS) and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

Mr Varadkar said they will ensure continued support for both employers and workers who lose their jobs due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions.

Under the EWSS, which provides a subsidy to qualifying employers to offset payroll costs, a payment of up to €350 per week will continue to be available. This enhanced payment level, which had been scheduled to fall from 1st  February, will remain in place until the 31st  March.

Similarly, the PUP, available to those who have lost their jobs, including the self-employed, as a result of COVID-19, will continue to be made available at the current pay-related level of up to €350 a week until March 31st.

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