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Travel restrictions have been tightened; Government updates on current restrictions…

DUBLIN: Taoiseach Micheál Martin has officially announced a cabinet decision to extend the Level 5 COVID-19 lockdown restrictions until March 5. The government has announced measures to expand existing restrictions and tighten foreign travel and other travel regulations.

The restrictions are as follows:

Only essential retail can open

People should stay at home

People are only allowed to travel within 5 km of the house

Family visits to other homes or gardens are not permitted

People are advised to work from home

Click and collect is not allowed

All hospitality remains closed

Most construction work is not permitted

Only ten people are allowed to attend the funeral

Only six guests at weddings

Travel

Out-of-country trips are only permitted if absolutely necessary. Out-of-home travels should be limited to 5km radius.

Additional Gardai will be deployed at ports and airports. A fine of €500 will be imposed for violating the travel restrictions

For those arriving in the country…

All visa-free short term travel from South Africa and South America have been suspended until March 5. This will take effect immediately.

Those arriving in Ireland from Brazil or South Africa must have a mandatory quarantine at a designated facility.

Those arriving in Ireland from elsewhere without a pre-departure negative PCR test will also have a mandatory quarantine. Violation of the law carries a fine of €2,500 or up to six months in prison.

Everyone else arriving in the country (after receiving a negative PCR result) must stay at home quarantine. Five days after their arrival in Ireland, they may be exempted from the quarantine if they receive a negative PCR test result.

If any countries in the European ‘traffic light’ system move to green or amber, there is no need for home quarantine for anyone who did a negative test before leaving.

These restrictions also apply to anyone who travels into the Republic from any port or airport on the island, including those in the North. The gardai has the power to send people back to the border if they break the rules.

The Taoiseach said that some of these measures need legislation and it will happen soon. He said most of the regulatory framework would be ready by the end of this week.

Education

Schools will not be fully open before March.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the schools would be reopened on a phased basis in February and March, starting with children with special needs.

“The reason why we would prefer to do it on a phased basis is because of the more transmissible B117 variant (the UK variant) and not wanting to take that risk of one million children moving on one day,” he said.

Restrictions will remain in place even after 5 March. The rate of infection may decrease and hospital admission may be stable. However, the Taoiseach said “there are no guarantees about anything”.

But it is reassuring to know that the vaccination program is moving forward in parallel. “The more and more that we vaccinate and the more vulnerable groups we vaccinate, the most elderly people we vaccinate, both in residential [care] and in the community , and frontline healthcare workers, we do give ourselves a bit more choice as we move along the year,” Mr. Martin said.

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