IRELAND will move to full Level 5 restrictions from midnight, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin has confirmed.
In his latest televised address from Government buildings, the Taoiseach announced the new measures to curb the rapid spread of Covid-19.
All household visits will be banned from midnight, with the exception of those caring for children or the elderly or those in social bubbles.
All non-essential retail, including gyms and leisure centres, will shut from the close of business tomorrow, while schools will stay closed until January 11.
A 5km limit on travel will also be reintroduced in measures that will be in place for ‘at least one month.
The reintroduction of the tighter measures was agreed at an unscheduled meeting of the Cabinet today, arranged amid growing concern at the rising spread of the coronavirus.
“The truth is that with the presence of the new strain and the pace of growth, it is not a time for nuance,” Martin said.
“We must apply the brakes to our movement and physical contacts.
“It is very clear that we are dealing with a strain of the disease that is spreading at a rate that has surpassed the most pessimistic models available.”
Today, there were 13 Covid-19 related deaths and 1,718 cases confirmed in Ireland – a new daily high. The 150 new cases confirmed in Donegal this evening was also a daily high and Donegal’s 14-day incidence rate, per 100,000 population, remains the country’s highest at 520.1.
The reproductive rate of the disease is now between 1.6 and 1.8 and Martin said the situation is now ‘extremely serious’ with a real threat that the health system could become ‘overwhelmed’.
“The numbers will deteriorate further in the coming days,” he warned.
“We are working to keep as many parents, grandparents, neighbours and friends safe until such times as they are vaccinated.
“The actions that we are taking as a society and as individuals is saving lives.
“We will repair the damage to our society. We will make sense of the trauma that we have all been through in due course.
“Right now, this is what we must do: We must stay at home and eliminate contact with others now to ensure as many of our people are still with us to enjoy the better days that are up ahead.”