Announcing a range of new measures to tackle the latest surge of Covid-19, Taoiseach Micheál Martin warned that Ireland must act against the major rise in cases.
Speaking to the nation, the Taoiseach announced that the closing time for all on-licensed hospitality businesses will be midnight.
“The increased socialisation that we now enjoy comes with a cost, and that cost is an increased risk of infection,” Mr Martin said.
From Friday, people are also advised to work from home where possible.
The Taoiseach also confirmed that Covid-19 passes will be required for cinemas and theatres.
"We need to act now to deal with this surge."
Taoiseach @MichealMartinTD this evening gave an address on the additional measures approved by Government to reduce levels of social contact and interrupt the spread of COVID-19.Advertisement
— MerrionStreet.ie (@merrionstreet) November 16, 2021
Mr Martin described the latest surge in cases as a “dramatic reminder of what this virus can do and the threat it continues to represent”.
“Protecting public health is our first responsibility,” Mr Martin said.
“The range of measures that we have agreed represents, I believe, an appropriate response to the situation we find ourselves in.
During his speech, the Taoiseach mentioned that without the vaccination programme, “there is no doubt that we would now be in a full scale lockdown”.
“The vaccination and booster programme remain at the core of our response to the disease,” Mr Martin said.
“Booster shots are currently being administered to those over 60 in the community and those in residential care facilities, the immunocompromised and healthcare workers.
“Following last night’s decision, we will now make arrangements for its roll-out to everyone in the country with an underlying condition and to everyone else over the age of 50.”
As part of the new measures announced, regardless of vaccination status, all household close contacts of a confirmed case should now restrict movement for five days, pending completion of a recommended antigen test.
Mr Martin confirmed that antigen testing is set to play a stronger roll in society.
During his speech to the nation, Mr Martin encouraged people to maintain collective effort against the virus.
“Our collective effort over so many months, our shared trust in science and engagement with the vaccination programme, have brought us to the point where virtually all of society and the economy has reopened.
“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, it is only this collective effort that will keep our society and economy open, that will sustain and maintain our progress, that will keep us healthy and safe.”
The announcement of further restrictions comes as the State recorded a further 4,407 new cases.
As of Tuesday morning, there were 614 patients in hospitals with the disease, with 114 in intensive care.
Speaking about the current rate of the virus, Dr Tony Holohan said it was “unsustainable” as he urged people to get a booster vaccine if eligible.
Government Ministers were given a stark warning at the Cabinet sub-committee meeting on Monday, with estimates that up to 500 people may be in intensive care by next month.
The best-case scenario could see around 200 people in ICU
- Additional reporting by PA