If you’ve been happily enjoying the bliss of Christmas cake and festive television, you may have missed the ever-changing list of Covid-19 restrictions. Here’s the latest
What are the latest Covid-19 rules to come in?
Travel between counties is now prohibited following the introduction of new Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions on Sunday.
People who had travelled outside their county of residence for Christmas are not asked to return home immediately but should remain in their county of residence once they do. People are allowed to travel outside their county for work, medical care, court, caring for children and elderly, for farming, for weddings or funerals or to attend a grave.
The advice on indoor visits has also changed, with people only allowed to receive visitors from one other household. This measure will remain in place until January 1st after which time, household visits will be banned completely.
What changes are going to come in from January?
From January 1st visits to private homes or gardens will again be banned, except for essential family reasons or people in support bubbles. The maximum number of people allowed at a wedding from January 3rd will go down to six from 25.
Are there any other changes?
Not as of yet. It is understood the National Public Health Emergency team (Nphet) recommended in a letter last week that all non-essential retail outlets should close for six weeks, with this and other restrictions to be considered by the Cabinet on Tuesday.
What rules are already in place that will remain?
Gastro-pubs and restaurants will remain shut having closed their doors on Christmas Eve except for take-away and delivery services.
Hotels can provide food and bar to guests only and can only have essential non-social guests except for those who checked in before St Stephen’s Day.
Hairdressers, salons, cinemas, galleries, and museums closed on Christmas Eve, while gyms and swimming pools will remain open for individual training only. Mass and religious services have moved online only.
Non-essential retail is allowed remain open, but will be encouraged to avoid holding any large sales events.
No organised outdoor gatherings are allowed. Funerals are limited to 10 mourners.
People are asked to work from home.
Schools are expected to reopen as normal in January but third level will be primarily online.
When will restrictions end?
Not any time soon, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar indicated on Monday. As vaccinations are due to be rolled out in the State on Tuesday he said there was a case for saying that Level 5 restrictions should stay in place until those most at-risk were vaccinated.
The restrictions are due to be reviewed by the Cabinet on January 12th but are unlikely to change as the impact of restrictions may not be felt on cases numbers at that point.
And when will we be getting vaccines?
Tuesday, according to the chief executive of the Health Service Executive (HSE) Paul Reid. Under the Government’s prioritisation plan over-65s living in long-term residential care facilities such as nursing homes are first in line, followed by healthcare workers.
Currently there are just less than 10,000 doses of the two-step Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine in the country, and about 30,000 more are due this week. This will be followed by 40,000 per week throughout January and early February, which will largely be devoted to the nursing homes’ programme once it gets into gear.
The indications are that Moderna’s vaccine, which is similarly complex to administer, may be approved as early as January 6th, so there could be extra supplies coming into the State shortly after that happens. All told it seems there will be upwards of 300,000 delivered to the State before the end of February, more than enough to immunise the entire nursing home sector