Micheál Martin confirms lockdown will continue until March 5th

ireland
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James Cox

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has confirmed Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions will continue until March 5th.

Mr Martin spoke to reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting where Ministers will sign off on the lockdown extension along with a number of new restrictions around travel.

The Taoiseach said it is likely there will be a significant number of Covid-19 patients in hospital even by the end of February.

Travel restrictions

“That’s the real, clear motivating factor in terms of the measures we’re going to take today, in terms of domestically continuing on the restrictions and seriously restricting travel as well.

“We’re saying to people ‘stay at home’ — that will yield the best results, in the most rapid time.”

It is expected all current restrictions will stay in place, including on construction.

The reopening of special education and the wider school system was left more open-ended as negotiations between the Department of Education and unions continue.

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The Cabinet sub-committee also approved mandatory two-week quarantining for anyone arriving into the country without a negative PCR test.

Fines of €2,500 or a six-month prison sentence could also apply.

The same rules will apply for anyone coming from Brazil or South Africa.

Hotels

Passengers will have to quarantine at state-chosen hotels — but will be able to leave if they get a negative PCR test after five days.

There will be increased garda presence near ports and airports to question people as to whether their trips are essential, and they will be able to hand out increased fines.

The measures are all expected to be approved by Cabinet this morning, but may take some time to implement.

Speaking last night, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said restrictions would be eased very slowly and the time would be used to get as many people vaccinated against Covid-19 as possible.

Meanwhile, Irish and Northern Irish authorities have agreed to share some data in relation to passengers in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

The quarantine rule for those without a negative PCR test is expected to be approved today.

“The effect of all of this will be to reduce the volume of international travel to Ireland to a dribble,” a source told The Irish Times.

The source said the move would stop Irish people travelling for holidays during the pandemic 'and British citizens from flying into Dublin and then using the North as a backdoor'.

According to evidence, 2,500 people have travelled to Spain this January, some of whom were holidaymakers.

Garda checkpoints

Garda checkpoints near airports and ports are set to be significantly ramped up in the next few weeks.

Ministers decided against mandatory quarantine for all travellers similar to the measures in Australia, New Zealand and parts of east Asia.

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In an appearance on Claire Byrne Live on RTÉ last night, Mr Varadkar said a mandatory two-week quarantine for all those travelling into Ireland had not been ruled out by Government.

Northern Ireland

However, he warned that mandatory quarantine would not be fully effective without an all-island approach due to the Border with Northern Ireland.

It is understood that there is little chance of a joint approach with Northern Ireland in the short term despite phone calls between Taoiseach Micheál Martin and the Northern First and Deputy First Ministers, Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill, on Monday.

 

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