A continuing surge in Covid-19 cases prompted the Irish government to announce yesterday new restrictions on top of the nationwide Level 5 curbs that were introduced last week, reported public broadcaster RTÉ. These and other enacted measures under Level 5 will be in place until 31 January with a possibility of extension depending on the pandemic situation.
Schools will be closed until 31 January, with some exceptions. Students preparing for their Leaving Certificate exams (the final exam of the secondary school system and the university matriculation examination in Ireland) this year will continue to go to school three days a week, starting from 11 January. Attendance days will be determined by schools locally each week.
Special education will also continue with precautions in place. Higher and university education will be carried out online, except for essential or time-sensitive projects or practical work.
Childcare services will stay closed except those provided for vulnerable children and children of essential workers. Furthermore, a household of an essential worker lacking an existing childcare arrangement can form a bubble with another household for the purpose of infant care.
The travel ban for passengers arriving from Britain and South Africa will be in force until Saturday. Afterwards, arrivals from these two countries where novel and more contagious coronavirus variants have been detected, must submit a negative PCR test for Covid-19. If they fail to do so, they risk a fine of EUR 2 500 or six months in jail.
Non-essential construction will be terminated on Friday afternoon. Essential construction can continue, such as Covid-19 linked health projects, critical rail and road maintenance, education and social housing projects, and major foreign direct investment projects that are export-oriented. There is an exception for emergency plumbing and other repair works.
Non-essential retail outlets will be relegated to deliveries, and will no longer be able to provide click-and-collect services. Supermarkets, pharmacies and other essential retailers are exempt.
Catering, accommodation and public transport
The sale of alcohol on a takeaway basis is prohibited. Pubs, restaurants and cafes can operate only food deliveries and takeaway. Hotels, guest houses and B&Bs can accommodate only essential workers and not tourists. Public transport will operate at 25 percent capacity.