The government has today agreed that from midnight on 24 December until 12 January, Level 5 restrictions will apply nationally. There will be a number of specific adjustments to Level 5 and, in addition, certain transitional arrangements will apply during the Christmas period.
The government has considered a number of factors in arriving at this decision, including NPHET concerns at the rapid increase in COVID-19 case numbers over recent days, the nature of social interaction likely to take place over the Christmas period involving mixing between younger and older people and the risk that this could lead to a wave of infection with a higher risk age profile.
The government has also considered the economic and social impacts of the re-introduction of Level 5 restrictions. A double rate of Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) will be paid for two weeks to businesses that are forced to close as a direct result of government restrictions on 26 December. Commercial rates relief will apply for affected areas for Q1 2021.
The adjustments to Level 5 are as follows:
- non-essential retail may remain open. The retail sector will be requested to defer January sales events
- gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools may remain open for individual training only
- outdoor golf and tennis are permitted
- hotels may only open for essential non-social and non-tourist purposes except for guests who already have a booking and are due to check in up to and including 26 December
- you must remain within your county (as opposed to within 5km of your home) apart from travel for work, education or other essential purposes
- non-contact training in pods of up to 15 may take place outdoors
- no matches/events should take place except for professional and elite sports and horse racing and greyhound racing behind closed doors
The specific transitional arrangements for the Christmas period are as follows:
From 3pm on 24 December:
- restaurants and pubs operating as restaurants will close
- hotels may provide food and bar services to guests only after that point
(*) For those who are part of a support bubble, the bubble counts as one household.
Up to and including 26 December:
- visits from up to 2 other households will be permitted
Up to and including 31 December:
- visits from one other household will be permitted