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18th Dec 2020

Pubs, hairdressers, retail, gyms – Taoiseach outlines likely scenarios as New Year restrictions loom

James Fenton

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that there is a “strong likelihood” that pubs and restaurants will be asked to closed before New Year’s Eve as concerns rise over increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast today, An Taoiseach said that he was “caught by surprise” by HSE comments yesterday that suggested people should only spend Christmas indoors with those who “you trust with your life.” Restrictions that are being eased from today, such a ban on inter-county travel, were scheduled to remain in place until January 6 but it now looks likely that date will be brought forward. Martin added that “this is a maximum Level 3 you are looking at. We want to maintain some of those services in January such as hairdressers and gyms.” On the subject of the hospitality industry, Martin said it is a “strong likelihood” that pubs and restaurants will be closed before New Year’s Eve.

Appearing on RTE’s Primetime last night, An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar explained that the number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 in the past seven days is 25% higher than the previous seven days and that this is a “cause for alarm.” He added that they would be “looking at closing hospitality again.”

Varadkar did say that “non-essential retail and personal services” would stay open if new measures come in. The Government is set to make a decision on the latest NPHET recommendations on Tuesday, December 22 with a view to having new measures come in before New Year’s Eve. 484 news cases of Covid-19 were confirmed on Thursday evening.

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