'This is not about going back to lockdowns but facing the real threat in front of us'

New measures include the return of table service only in bars

The Taoiseach Micheal Martin has announced the introduction of new measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and will see the country go back to the same impositions that were in place on 22nd October.

Restrictions impacting the hospitality sector will come into effect from Tuesday, 7 December.

The new measures include the return of table service only in bars, as well as a maximum of six people to a table, with at least a metre between each table.

Multiple bookings for restaurants, bars and other hospitality settings will also no longer be permitted.

It also includes the closure of night clubs, which only reopened their doors in October.

Indoor events, including gigs, concerts and sporting events, can only reach 50% capacity.

Face masks must be worn at all times except when eating or drinking.


- Niteclubs to close from 7th December - 11th January

- Restrictions for hospitality sector revert to those in place on October 22nd

- Closing time will be midnight

- Table service only in bars, no more than 6 adults per table, no multiple bookings

- Indoor cultural events and entertainment reduced to 50 per cent capacity

- Covid certs required for gyms and leisure centres

- Financial supports extended

Addressing the nation this evening the Taoiseach said: "We will get through this latest twist by drawing on the same spirit of resilience that has got us to this point, the same spirit of solidarity and trust in science that has given us the most vaccinated population in Europe and the same spirit of community that defines us as a nation."

We will get through this latest twist by drawing on the same spirit of resilience that has got us to this point, the same spirit of solidarity and trust in science that has given us the most vaccinated population in Europe and the same spirit of community that defines us as a nation.

Taoiseach's full address.

My message this evening is a difficult one. It is difficult because even though Ireland has done very well as a country and you have done everything that has been asked of you. We have received some very stark advice from our Chief Medical Officer and other public health experts that requires the reintroduction of a number of restrictions.

I understand and I share the disappointment and frustration that this will cause for many of you, but I want to explain where we are, what we need to do next. And what it is we are trying to avoid.

Just over two weeks ago, I spoke to you about the fourth wave that that was emerging here and across Europe. I explained what it meant and what was required to put it back. I asked you to reduce your social interactions, get your vaccine, take your booster when it was offered to reinstate the basics such as mass wearing and personal behavior.

You did all of that. And as a country, we pulled it back with enormous effort for hospitals health. We are among the best in the world in terms of vaccination rates. And our third dose and booster program is powering ahead also. By tonight, close to 950,000 of our most vulnerable people would have received their third dose, a rate of distribution that puts us in the top four countries in Europe. We have stabilized the surge. However, just as we were getting a handle on it reports began to emerge of another new and potentially more dangerous variant of this virus. And last week, the World Health Organization announced that Omicron was indeed a variant of concern. But scientists across the world are working around the clock to fully understand the nature and potential extra threat posed by Omicron.

The initial information about transmissibility coming from South Africa, which did great work in identifying the variant is a cause for concern. Just a few weeks ago, South Africa was reporting approximately 300 cases per day. Yesterday, it reported 11,500 new cases.

We will do whatever we reasonably can to stop this new variant from circulating in the country. But we have already confirmed one case. And all of our experience to date shows that why restrictions on travel are useful to delay the entry of new variants, it is impossible to stop them indeed on an hourly basis. We are now hearing reports from all across the world of new cases of Omicron being confirmed

The challenge we face is that why we have stabilized the surge of cases in the country, the daily case numbers are still very high. Case numbers tonight sit at over 5,000 The increased social mixing that normally comes with Christmas would put that under pressure in any case. But if Omicron takes hold and if it is more transmissible, the potential for a very serious crisis is obvious. The CMO under public health experts have been exceptionally clear in their advice to government. The risks associated with proceeding into the Christmas period without some restrictions to reduce the volume of personal contacts is just too high.

I've always been straight with you as Taoiseach and the protection of public is the government's primary responsibility and that we will do whatever is needed to discharge that duty.

This is not about going back to the days of lockdowns. It's about adjusting the guidelines to meet the threat we face today and protecting the progress achieved today. And that is why the government accepted NPHET's recommendations and guidance and agreed to introduce the following restrictions.

From the 7th December to the 9th January, nightclubs will close, strict social distancing will be required in all in bars and restaurants including hotels, and they must all revert to the situation that was in place before the 22nd of October. That means table service only, one metre between tables, a maximum of six adults per table. There can be no multiple table bookings and masks must be worn when not at the table. Closing time remains at midnight.

There will be a maximum of 50% capacity at entertainment, culture, community and sporting events indoors, which must all be fully seated. Facemasks must be worn at all times unless eating. Requirement for the Covid cert will be required for gyms and leisure centers and hotel bars and restaurants.

In addition, NPHET advised that visits to private homes over the coming weeks should be kept to a maximum of three other households. That's four households in total. However, they do acknowledge the need for flexibility here.

Across the country, very many people in the hospitality and entertainment industries will be bitterly disappointed by this news many of them would be fearing for their livelihoods. I want to reassure them, that just as we have done since the beginning of the pandemic, we will stand by them and ensure that they have the financial support necessary to weather this latest storm and to stay intact. We have demonstrated through interventions and support unprecedented in their scale that we will do whatever we need to do to stay safe and see society and the economy through. And that has worked in sectors all across the economy, with many hundreds of thousands of people back in work, in industries that relied on government support during the pandemic. We will continue this approach for those employers and workers affected by tonight's developments.

I'm also conscious that over the last week, we've talked a lot about our children and young people and I know that they carry a lot of worry on their shoulders. And I want to take a moment to speak directly to you.

A lot has been asked of you in the last year and a half. You've had to spend less time with your friends, miss out on special occasions. Now we're asking you to wear masks in school. And soon we may be asking you to get vaccinated.

Through it all you have been extraordinary. You have done what you've been asked without complaint and you've done it not for yourselves, but for your parents, your grandparents, your community and your country.

You are a very special generation. Thank you for what you've done and what you continue to do. To everyone else. I said it's at every stage of this orphan Covid journey as a country and as a people we have trusted the science and we have done our best. We haven't always got it right and there have been times of great frustration but every time we have faced a new challenge, we have pulled together as a nation and done what was needed. I'm asking us all to do that again.

Further study and examination in the weeks ahead may discover that Omicron does not represent a more deadly threat. And if that is the case, it will come as a great relief to us on but we simply cannot take that risk with people's lives and health. Throughout this Covid journey. There have been many twists and turns this little twist is disappointing. But we are nowhere near back where we were.

Large sections of our society and economy are open and thriving. We will get through this latest twist by drawing on the same spirit of resilience that has got us to this point, the same spirit of solidarity and trust in science that has given us the most vaccinated population in Europe and the same spirit of community that defines us as a nation. We will get through it together. Stay safe and look after each other.