Hospitality to close on Christmas Eve, non-essential retail to remain open

ireland
Hospitality To Close On Christmas Eve, Non-Essential Retail To Remain Open Hospitality To Close On Christmas Eve, Non-Essential Retail To Remain Open
Cabinet met this morning to sign-off on the increased measures.
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Muireann Duffy

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced new restrictions for travel and the hospitality sector.

From 3pm on Christmas Eve restaurants and pubs that serve food will have to close, while hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, cinemas and galleries will also shut on the 24th.

Non-essential retail can remain open but is being asked to postpone January sales.

Gyms and leisure centres may also stay open for individual training only. Non-contact training in pods of up to 15 may take place outdoors, but no matches or events should take place, except for professional/elite sports and horse/greyhound racing behind closed doors.

From midnight on the 26th, inter-county travel will be restricted, but with exemptions for people getting home after the Christmas break.

Hotels may only open for essential, non-social, non-tourist purposes after Christmas Eve.

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Schools, early learning and childcare services remain open, while higher, further and college education should remain online.

From December 27th, people will only be allowed to have visitors from one other household in their home, up to December 31st.

From January 1st, no household visits will be permitted unless it is for essential care-giving reasons or part of a support bubble arrangement.

Christmas Day mass will be the last one of the year as worship will move online from the 26th. Weddings will be allowed to have 25 attendees until midnight on January 1st, then reducing to just six people from the 2nd.

The travel ban from the UK has also been extended until the end of the year.

Stay at home

This comes as the Cabinet has been warned the number of new Covid-19 cases will be over 900 today - the highest number since Halloween.

The new measures will last until January 12th, at which time they will be reviewed.

The Taoiseach said the country needs to tackle the virus "aggressively and head on," adding he was delivering the news "with a heavy heart".

Mr Martin said the public's willingness to accept restrictions has been key, stating "many, many people are alive today who would otherwise not be".

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In a press briefing following the Taoiseach's announcement, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said people are being asked to stay at home, adding people should prepare for restrictions to last for the first two months of 2021 as a "critical mass" of vaccination is not likely to be achieved until the end of February or early March.

Mr Varadkar confirmed a double payment of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) would be given for the next two weeks and hotels will also qualify for the payment as their business will be greatly diminished during the period. The EWSS will remain in place for "as long as is necessary", he said.

The Tánaiste added details of a commercial rates holiday will be confirmed later today.

It has also been confirmed to Ministers that 40,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will arrive every week in January.

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