CONFIRMED: Nightclubs to close, 50% capacity at indoor events and household mixing limit among new restrictions 11 months ago

CONFIRMED: Nightclubs to close, 50% capacity at indoor events and household mixing limit among new restrictions

The measures will take effect from 7 December.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced that nightclubs are to close their doors from Tuesday, 7 December as part of the latest batch of Covid-19 restrictions.

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Under the new rules to be introduced next week, strict social distancing will be required in all bars and restaurants, including hotels, with the establishments to revert to the situation in place before 22 October.

That means:

  • table service only
  • there must be one metre between tables
  • a maximum of six adults per table
  • there can be no multiple table bookings
  • masks must be worn when not at the table

The current midnight closing time remains.

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There will also be a maximum of 50% capacity at indoor entertainment, cultural, community and sporting events, which must all be fully seated.

In these venues, face masks must be worn at all times unless eating or drinking.

The requirement for a Covid Pass will be extended to gyms, while it is recommended that household visits be limited to three households visiting a fourth at any given time.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar later clarified that the household limit is advice, stating: "There will be no Gardaí calling to people's homes to see how many are inside".

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The Taoiseach said the Government agreed to introduce the restrictions, which will be in effect until at least 9 January, following "some very stark advice" from NPHET.

He stated that while Ireland had stabilised the recent surge of Covid-19, daily case numbers still remain "very high".

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Martin also called the new variant of the virus, Omicron, "potentially more dangerous" and a "cause for concern".

"While scientists across the world are working around the clock to fully understand the nature and potential extra threat posed by Omicron, the initial information about transmissibility coming from South Africa, which did great work in identifying the variant, is a cause for concern," he explained.

"Just a few weeks ago, South Africa was reporting approximately 300 cases per day. Yesterday it reported 11,500 new cases, on Wednesday it was 8,500, up on 4,500 the day before and 2,200 on Monday."

"The challenge we face is that while we have stabilised the surge of cases in the country, the daily case numbers are still very high.

"The increased social mixing that normally comes with Christmas would put that under pressure in any case, but if Omicron takes hold and if it is more transmissible, the potential for a very serious crisis is obvious.

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"The CMO and our Public Health Experts have been exceptionally clear in their advice to Government. The risks associated with proceeding into the Christmas period without some restrictions to reduce the volume of personal contacts is just too high."

The Taoiseach acknowledged that many people in the hospitality and entertainment industries will be bitterly disappointed and "fearing for their livelihoods" following the announcement.

"I want to reassure them that just as we have done since the beginning of the pandemic, the Government will stand by them and ensure that they have the financial supports necessary to weather this latest storm and to stay intact until we are out of it."