Ireland is returning to a state of total lockdown for six weeks, starting on midnight 21st October, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced.

The restrictions bring the country almost entirely to a Level 5 state, the most severe lockdown since the COVID 19 pandemic broke out back in April.  There are a few ‘softer’ measures regarding social bubbles and guests at weddings.

Under Level 5, all pubs, bars, cafés, restaurants, hotels, clubs, and non-essential retail will be closed.  Takeaway and delivery services are allowed.

The Government convened on the afternoon of 19th October to discuss introducing new restrictions.  Last week, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan recommended Level 5 restrictions for 6 weeks.  After almost three hours of discussions they agreed to a national lockdown.

Announcing the measures, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “Many people have done everything that has been asked of them, but some have not.  As Taoiseach, I’m asking everyone again to take this threat seriously.”

The restrictions include people not being allowed to travel further than 5km from their home.  Fines will be issued for those who breach the rule.  10 people will be allowed to attend a funeral.  In recognition of the difficulties faced by parents and families, non-contact sports training can continue for school-aged children in groups of up to 15.

In a divergence from the Level 5 outlines, a household can meet up with another household if it is outside.  So-called ‘support bubbles’ will also be introduced for lone parents, senior citizens, and vulnerable people.  The number of guests allowed at weddings is also higher than the stated limits for Level 5, staying as they are at 25.

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment and Employment Wage Subsidy Schemes are to be amended for the duration of the six week lockdown.  The PUP rate of €350 per week is being restored for those who were earning over €400 weekly.  The EWSS scheme is also being expanded and a moratorium on evictions is being brought in.

Off license hours will remain unchanged for the time being however it is understood the sale of alcohol will continue to be closely monitored.

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