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18th Dec 2020

“Very likely” pubs and restaurants will close again before New Year, says Taoiseach

Jade Hayden

“We are mindful of the rising numbers.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that it is “very likely” that pubs and restaurants will close again before the New Year.

Speaking on Newstalk this morning, Martin said that the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has advised stricter measures be imposed on the country before the end of 2020.

This comes as cases of Covid-19 have continued to rise amid Level 3 during the festive season.

Martin said that there is a strong possibility that pubs and restaurants will shut again before the year is out, as part of new “Level 3+” restrictions set to be introduced after Christmas. Non-essential retail, however, would remain open with hairdressers and other similar services being closely monitored.

The Taoiseach added that NPHET and the government are not “scaremongering” the public following increased warnings about socialising during the Christmas period.

He added that he was concerned about the rising number of cases and that he will be taking the team’s recommendations seriously.

Martin told RTÉ News last night that although the country’s healthcare system is in better shape than last winter, he wants to ensure it stays that way.

200 people are currently in Irish hospitals being treated for Covid-19. 31 are in intensive care.

“Numbers are rising across all age cohorts,” he said. “In most of the second wave it was the lower age cohort which meant the impact on hospitalisations and ICUs was not as significant.”

“[We will] give people plenty of notice on whatever decisions the Government take, but we are mindful of the rising numbers. We know that when they get to a certain level they can grow exponentially.”

This comes after Northern Ireland’s First Minister Minister Michelle O’Neill announced yesterday that from December 26, the country will enter another total lockdown for six weeks.

Health Minister Robin Swann said: “From 8pm to 6am from 26 December we don’t see mixing in households except for the households themselves.

“For the essential businesses that are open for the rest of the six weeks – they will actually close over that time.

“That’s really to send a signal this is how serious this has to be taken. This is how much we’re asking of the people of Northern Ireland.”