THE government has agreed to reject Nphet’s advice of a new 5 p.m. curfew on reception and instead put in place a 8 p.m. closing time until January 30.
The 8 p.m. curfew will also apply to hotel bars and restaurants as well as other indoor events, including entertainment, cultural, community and sporting events.
In his announcement tonight, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Omicron spread will not look like anything we’ve seen before.
He said that omicron is “tearing people apart in other countries” and that “there is no quick fix.”
“None of this is easy, we are all exhausted with Covid,” he said.
“The twists and turns and disappointments weigh heavily on everyone
“We can’t wish it and there is no silver bullet to fix it
“We are talking about living with Covid and many think that means coming back to life before Covid, it is not.
“Tonight’s news will be deeply disappointing for many, it is not the news that I wanted to bring you, the truth is that we are in a much better place than at this time next year and we will be in a good place. best place in 2022, “he added.
Mr Martin said the country was in a much better place with the virus than at this time last year and that “we have to get to the other side of this Omicron wave safely.”
“Right now, as I speak to you, the omicron variant is exploding across Europe,” he said.
“The level of concern is the highest I have seen, we are still in the early days of this new wave.
“We are going to see a massive increase in infections, more than a third of all new cases are due to omicron,” he added.
Other proposals agreed to by Cabinet include a limit of 100 people for participants in weddings after 8 p.m.
The Indo Daily: Permission to speak: Has NPHET been silenced?
The measures will take effect from midnight this Sunday, which means that the 8 p.m. curfew will apply from Monday.
Tánaist Leo Varadkar said “this is not the Christmas we expected” and it is “beyond our worst fears” in a message to the hospitality industry.
He said “the Omicron wave is going to come strong and fast, the cases will break all records, maybe as early as next week.”
“There will still be dark days in January.
“I can’t promise that next summer or Christmas will be any better, but I promise we will do everything we can.
“I didn’t think it would last that long, it lasted 2 years and it can last several years, it’s been a long war,” he added.
Nphet had recommended that a 5 p.m. closing time for pubs and restaurants as well as a series of new restrictions on indoor and outdoor events remain in place until January 30.
The recommendation came in the letter from Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan to Health Stephen Donnelly last night.
There was significant opposition from the government benches and among some ministers to the 5pm curfew on hospitality.
The Department of Health said today that Omicron accounts for 35% of confirmed cases of Covid-19.
In addition to the curfew on hospitality, Nphet also recommended that participation in outdoor events be limited to 50% or 5,000 attendees. He advised that indoor theaters, cinemas, entertainment, cultural and sporting events should also be subject to a 5 p.m. curfew and attendance limited to 50 percent of capacity.
Other advice from Nphet that is being reviewed by the government tonight also says close contact of confirmed cases that have not been fully vaccinated and further strengthened should be limited for 10 days.
The HSE will be asked to consider the most appropriate testing program for this cohort, but the opinion does not specify whether it will be antigen or PCR testing.
It is also understood that Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has received advice from his ministry that quarantine requirements for people coming from seven South African countries should be removed.
However, they will still have to submit to current testing requirements, but will not have to quarantine themselves unless they test positive.
3,628 other cases of Covid-19 were confirmed this evening, with 420 hospitalized patients, including 105 in intensive care.
The Coalition has faced a major backlash from backbench MPs to the proposal to close pubs and restaurants at 5 p.m.
Seven senators from Fianna Fáil visited the plinth of Leinster House this afternoon, saying the recommended closing time of 5 p.m. for hospitality was a “step too far”.
Led by Senator Lisa Chambers, Senators Shane Cassells, Fiona O’Loughlin, Malcolm Byrne, Eugene Murphy, Pat Casey and Paul Daly, said the 5 p.m. closure was an effective shutdown of the area.
“This recommendation should not be accepted by the government. The government must take into account the social and economic impact of these decisions, ”she said.
She said senators would not quit the party if the government made the decision to accept the 5 p.m. recommendation and would support the government.
Ms Chambers said the proposed 5pm closure for hospitality meant that “many rural pubs cannot open at all as they often only open at night.”
She said earlier on Twitter: “People are going to socialize at home. Surely it is better and safer to have regulated spaces like bars and restaurants?”
Senator Casey, a hotel owner, said it was a “stealth” shutdown of the area.
“The 12 Christmas pubs will be the 12 house parties of Christmas, ”said Senator Malcolm Byrne.
He also said that closing cinemas or theaters at 5 pm was a “crazy” idea.
Mr Byrne said he was “totally opposed” to the 5pm closing time and said it “would just lead to an increase in house parties”.
Mr Murphy also tweeted: “As most pubs don’t open until 6 p.m. I see no possible proposal from NPHET to close before 5 p.m. acceptable to the government.”
Former Fine Gael Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring called for the advice to be rejected, while his former Cabinet colleague Regina Doherty tweeted: ‘If Nphet is really saying that two people doubly vaccinated and boosted do not can’t have pizza and a pint after 5pm. so I give up.
Former Agriculture Minister and Fianna Fáil backbench MP Barry Cowen tweeted: “Obviously I’m not aware of the specific details of Nphet’s recommendations, but surely a curfew at 9pm or so. 10 p.m. with a weekly review of the numbers.
“Increase boosters with updated Covid certificates for entry to all indoor events. People are open to compromise, not confrontation in the interest of public health. “
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and his senior ministerial colleagues now find themselves caught in the crossfire between Nphet’s advice and the views of several TDs and senators who want the new rules to be watered down.
Nphet also recommended that participation in outdoor events be limited to 50pc or 5,000 participants. He advised that indoor theaters, cinemas, entertainment, cultural and sporting events should also be subject to a 5 p.m. curfew and attendance limited to 50 percent of capacity.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan told Health Minister Donnelly in a letter that the new restrictions are expected to go into effect as soon as possible and no later than midnight Sunday.
As the Cabinet subcommittee and full Cabinet meet this Friday afternoon to consider new advice from public health officials, TDs and Senators from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have expressed strong opposition and their skepticism about the need to close the reception at 5 p.m.
However, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar strongly hinted that the government might be ready to accept some or all of Nphet’s advice, tweeting: “We all feel anger, frustration, dismay, depression but it doesn’t. can’t stop us from making the right decisions to keep our people safe.
Earlier, in a joint statement, Senators FF Casey and Crowe condemned the proposed 5 p.m. closure of all hotels as “disastrous for the thousands of hotel workers and discriminatory as it will have a disproportionate effect on people living in Rural Ireland ”.