Ireland has imposed new restrictions to curb the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, including a curfew on pubs and restaurants by the end of January and a limit on the number of people who can attend weddings and sporting events.
Nonetheless, the controversial measures a week before Christmas were less serious than those recommended by the National Public Health Advisory Team (NPHET), which urged hospitality facilities to close at 5 pm. ..
According to health experts, Omicron now accounts for 35% of cases and is increasing exponentially. On Thursday, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said it accounted for 27 percent.
“This is not an easy task. We are all exhausted from Covid,” Taoiseach Michelál Martin said in a television speech. “But what we’re dealing with is reality. We can’t hope for it and there’s no silver bullet to fix it.”
The tax collector expressed resentment at the recommendation to close the bar at 5 pm.
“Christmas has been canceled in our industry,” Donal O’Keefe, chief executive officer of the Irish Association of Authorized Winemakers, told RTÉ Radio before the Cabinet withdrew from the recommendation.
However, some politicians believed that a curfew at 8 pm could encourage people to continue the party later in their private homes.
The new rules do not allow indoor events after 8 pm. Indoor events early in the day are limited to 50% of capacity or 1,000, whichever is lower. For outdoor events, attendance is 5,000 or 50% of capacity.
Weddings can continue after 8 pm, but should be limited to 100 people.
The government has also tightened rules on testing and restricting the movement of people who come into contact with someone at Covid. Everyone who arrives will need a negative test, regardless of vaccination status.
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