NPHET recommends 5pm closing time for pubs and restaurants as new restrictions come to light
The Government is set to meet on Friday to consider the proposals.
The National Public Health and Emergency Team has called for a 5pm curfew for pubs and restaurants as part of new recommendations issued to Government.
If approved, the 5pm closing time would come into effect from Monday, 20 December.
Cabinet is expected to meet today (Friday 17 December) in order to assess the latest advice.
According to RTÉ News, NPHET has expressed "exceptional" concern over the rise of the Omicron variant and the increasing pressure that currently faces the Irish healthcare system.
In addition to pubs and restaurants, NPHET is also recommending a 5pm shutdown for sporting, theatre and cultural gatherings – including cinemas – as well as a reduction to 50% capacity – or a maximum of 5,000 people – for outdoor events.
It is understood that NPHET regards large gatherings as potential super-spreader events at a time when the Omicron variant continues to rapidly emerge amidst daily Covid case figures.
Despite this view, it is presently unclear how weddings will be affected.
Representatives for the country's hospitality sector have quickly reacted, noting that the proposed plan signals a devastating step backward for the industry.
Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 on Friday, Restaurant Association of Ireland chief executive Adrian Cummins referred to the potential measures as "effectively a hospitality lockdown" and "a shock to our industry" while questioning the previous deployment of the Covid vaccination passport.
A proposal for a 5pm closure of Hospitality is a lockdown of the sector
Where is the plan for living with COVID
No other European country is implementing such a draconian measure. https://t.co/pdEH3rif4t
— Adrian Cummins 🇮🇪🇪🇺 (@adriancummins) December 16, 2021
Furthermore, it is expected that close contacts of a confirmed Covid case who have not received a booster vaccine dose will be asked to restrict their movements.
Limitations on household visits are reportedly unaffected. At present, people from as many as three households can gather in a fourth household.
Rules on international travel are expected to stay in line with the latest European Union guidelines, while schools are unlikely to close before the Christmas holidays despite continual pressure placed on Government to do so.
Speaking on RTÉ's News at One on Thursday, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe warned that new restrictions were likely to occur.
"I think it is likely there will be some further changes as we approach the Christmas period," said Donohoe.
"I again understand the anxiety and the deepening fatigue that so many face at the moment but our booster vaccination campaign is picking up speed by the hour and we do have the measure of this pandemic.
"We'll get to a better place in 2022 on it but it may indeed be the case that we need to do more across Christmas than we would have anticipated so what the Government will do is as soon as we receive the formal communication from NPHET, the Government will meet and we will aim to reduce any uncertainty or indeed anxiety in so far as we can by quickly making and communicating a decision."
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