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21st Jan 2022

Normal closing times for pubs could come in as soon as tomorrow

Ellen Fitzpatrick

Times are changing.

Cabinet is expected to meet today to sign off on the lifting of nearly all Covid-19 restrictions, and it seems like the 8pm closing time could be gone as early as tomorrow.

With Micheal Martin likely to address the nation later this evening, the Irish Examiner has reported that the hospitality curfew could be the first to be scrapped.

Hospitality groups have been calling for the 8pm closing time to be lifted tonight as pubs and restaurants are claiming they are ready to open at a moments notice.

It is believed that the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has recommended restrictions around hospitality can be lifted, including the removal of the requirement of the Covid pass to enter.

Nphet met last night, with recommendations given to ministers on the progression of easing restrictions including live venues and sports venues can return to full capacity, an end to restrictions on household guests and a phased return to work.

The wearing of face masks will remain with Nphet advising that they should still be worn on public transport and in retail settings and Covid passes will still be needed for international travel.

The formal announcement of the easing of restrictions is expected to come at around 6pm this evening, with the Taoiseach promising to be “clear and comprehensive”.

He told RTÉ: “The situation is positive. We have come through Omicron better than we might have expected prior to Christmas.

“The combination of the booster campaign and vaccination and the fact that Omicron does not seem to be as virulent as Delta and previous waves has meant that the impact on people, in terms of severe illness and death and ICUs, has been much less.”