Tweaked Level 3: Everything we know about the latest Christmas plans

ireland
Here is everything we know about what the month of December could look like. Photo: Getty Images.
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By Digital Desk Staff

Following a week full of reports of changing plans and modifications to restriction levels, it can confusing to keep track of the country’s latest Christmas plans in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

At a Cabinet meeting today, it is expected the Government will approve plans to move the country to Level 3 restrictions after six weeks of the current Level 5 lockdown.

Here is everything we know about what the month of December could look like, amid indications of tweaks to Level 3 under a potentially phased reopening plan.

Summary

The priority under Level 3 is to keep schools, early learning and childcare services open and to minimise disruption in the workforce.

People are asked to reduce the number of people they meet to a minimum and to not travel outside of their county.

Gatherings

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For gatherings in a home or garden under Level 3 no visitors are permitted, with the exception of visits for essential purposes such as providing care to vulnerable people.

However, it is expected that household visits will be allowed to take place closer to Christmas under the Government's modified plan. The number that may be permitted to gather remains unclear, though it is likely to be less than six people from three households.

In other outdoor settings under Level 3 such as dining or for exercise, up to six people from a maximum of two households can meet while maintaining strict physical distancing.

Organised indoor gatherings such as events in theatres, cinemas, arts events, business events, training events or conferences, are classed as “controlled” environments with a named organiser, owner or manager. They should not take place.

Organised outdoor gatherings such as outdoor arts events and training events with a named organiser, owner or manager can take place with up to 15 people.

Religious services

Religious services must remain online with places of worship opening for private prayer only under Level 3.

However, it has been suggested the religious services may resume at some point under the Government’s modified plan, with the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) advising places of worship be allowed to open during the two-week period between Christmas and the new year.

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For weddings, up to 25 guests can attend a ceremony and reception, however it is not permitted to attend a wedding in another county. Funerals can be attended by up to 25 mourners.

Work and travel

Restrictions on domestic travel are still included in Level 3 as people are asked to stay in their county apart from work, education, medical and other essential purposes.

However, it is expected that travel restrictions may be further relaxed at some point closer to Christmas, with people allowed to travel beyond county borders to visit friends or family.

Working from home should take place unless it is absolutely necessary to attend in person.

Schools and childcare services can remain open with protective measures. Higher and adult education such as universities must escalate protective measures and limit congregation as far as possible.

On public transport, face coverings must be worn, capacity must be limited to 50 per cent, and the service should be used for essential workers and purposes only.

Older and vulnerable people

Those aged over 70 and the medically vulnerable should "exercise judgement" regarding the extent to which they engage with others and in activities outside home, with specific guidance set to be provided.

Nursing and care home visits are suspended under Level 3, aside from critical and compassionate circumstances.

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However, these visiting restrictions are expected to be eased as Christmas approaches to allow residents one scheduled visit a week.

Businesses and services

Museums, galleries and other cultural attractions must all be closed. Libraries will be available for e-services and call and collect.

However, there has been some suggestion that these venues will open under the Government’s modified Level 3 plan.

Bars, cafes, restaurants and wet pubs can reopen for outdoor dining and takeaways only under Level 3, with a maximum of 15 people.

However, it is expected that hospitality businesses such as restaurants may further reopen under strict guidelines at some point in December, though wet pubs seem likely to remain closed unless they have a working kitchen.

Nightclubs, discos and casinos will remain closed.

Hotels and accommodation can remain open but services will be limited to residents.

Retail and services such as shopping centres, hairdressers, beauticians and barbers can reopen with protective measures in place and the use of face coverings. This is likely to happen from next week.

Sports

Outdoor non-contact training can take place in pods of up to 15 under Level 3, with exemptions for professional, inter-county and senior club championship teams.

Indoor training can only be undertaken by individuals, with no exercise or dance classes.

No matches and events can take place, with exemptions for professional, elite, inter-country, club championships and horse-racing taking place behind closed doors.

Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools can open with protective measures for individual training only.

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