Taoiseach confirms country will move to Level 3 on December 1st

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Digital Desk Staff

The country will move to Level 3 restrictions from December 1st, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has confirmed.

However, Cabinet is still undecided over whether pubs and restaurants will reopen fully ahead of the Christmas period.

A decision on this is expected towards the end of the week.

The Taoiseach told The Irish Examiner that shops will reopen next week, adding that the Government will be “flexible” on advice it gives families, particularly in relation to Christmas week.

Mr Martin said “individual behaviour” and “our own collective behaviour is going to be critical” on how we get through the festive season.

Covid vaccine

He added that the rollout of an effective Covid vaccine in the first half of 2021 would spark a “rebound for the economy”.

Mr Martin said the Government will listen to advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

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The Government has also commissioned a separate body of work to identify 'specific places or circumstances' where the virus is likely to spread, also taking into account the socio-economic impacts of different measures.

This will all be considered when Cabinet meets on Tuesday.

Mr Martin said: "Our aim has always been to exit level 5 onto level 3 on December 1st, that is our aim and our objective and that would allow non-essential retail to open up and to give something in advance of Christmas to them.

“What our own data is showing us really is looking back over the summer to the September, October period is that congregation, large crowds gathering, alcohol, events, all of those things coming together proved the cause of a lot of spikes in different parts of the country, we have to try to avoid that again into the future, people need to be aware of that.”

Speaking today, Mr Martin said “Level 5 had worked” as Government prepares to outline a lockdown exit strategy this week.

Mr Martin said exiting Level 5 by the end of the month is “our target and objective”.

He said the narrative that the restrictions are not working was not “helpful or accurate”.

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“Ireland is second best in the EU in terms of the low number of cases. Level 3, the restrictions in household visits and Level 5 did work, and has worked.

“There’s been a narrative around this that I don’t think has been helpful or accurate. It has worked we’ve brought the numbers well down.”

'Cautious' reopening

Meanwhile, the easing of Level 5 restrictions is expected to take place in two stages.

There could be a 'cautious' lifting of some restrictions next week before a further reopening in advance of Christmas — provided the number of infections does not rise significantly — according to The Irish Times.

There had been an increase in coronavirus cases but there is hope that they will continue to stabilise as 318 were confirmed last night.

The seven-day moving average now stands at 375, which is the lowest it has been since the beginning of October.

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Government will make its decision in the coming days with increased pressure from industry groups to allow businesses to reopen for Christmas.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is likely to continue to recommend a cautious approach as the country is nowhere near their target of 50-100 cases per day. It was hoped that Level 5 restrictions would see case numbers fall to this level by December.

Cabinet

Options will be discussed at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday before a Cabinet subcommittee meeting on Tuesday evening.

The meeting is expected to include leading Nphet members including chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan and HSE chief executive Paul Reid.

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