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Recommended for lockdowns lasting six weeks from St. Stephen’s Day

The lockdown in Ireland, which begins this afternoon, is expected to end in the second week of January.

The Department of Health has asked the government to maintain the Level 5 lockdown for six weeks starting on St. Stephen’s Day. There are indications that such a move will take effect from today.

The lockdown, which currently runs until January 12, may be extended to six weeks, considering the possibility of a review.

Arrangements will remain in place in the country from 3pm on December 24 (today) until January 12, Prime Minister Michel Martin said in a speech to the nation after Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.

The non-essential retail sale, which the government has decided to open earlier this week, may also be halted. Under Level 5, health ministry sources suggest that home visits may also be banned.

The National Public Health Emergency Response Team (NFET) on Wednesday again issued a stern warning to the government about the dangers posed by the fast-growing, severely affected and rapidly spreading new variant virus.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the situation was “very serious”. Studies show that new strains of the virus from South Africa and the UK are emerging in the country, with the rate of infection increasing rapidly among all ages. “This is the worst situation since I became health minister,” he told reporters.

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