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Level 5 rules needed after Christmas - Tony warns government

Holohan calls for action after new strain emerges

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An almost deserted Dublin airport yesterday

An almost deserted Dublin airport yesterday

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

An almost deserted Dublin airport yesterday

Level 5 restrictions will be needed after Christmas due to the rising number of new Covid-19 cases, chief medical officer Tony Holohan has warned.

Dr Holohan urged the Government to take action to stop the spread of the disease as a new strain of the virus emerged in Britain.

The recommendation was given to Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan at a Cabinet Committee meeting last night.

Considering

A senior Government source said Mr Holohan said: "Level 5 restrictions will be needed at some date after Christmas."

However, the Government is understood to be considering Level 3 restrictions with additional measures for the coming week.

Retail will remain open but there will be restrictions on how many shoppers can be in shops at any one time.

A senior Government source said it is now the "strong feeling" that pubs and restaurants will have to close before December 30.

Another Government source said restaurants and pubs may even be asked to close as early as Christmas Eve.

Limits on household visits may also be imposed sooner than previously expected.

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Dr Tony Holohan

Dr Tony Holohan

Colin Keegan

Dr Tony Holohan

 

At present three households can meet in one home - and this was to be reduced to just two on December 30.

Restrictions on inter-county travel are likely to be reintroduced before the end of the year with sources suggesting it may be after St Stephen's Day.

The Government was planning to allow people to travel between counties until January 6, despite Nphet warning against the move.

However, due to a significant rise in Covid-19 cases and the emergence of the new strain, it is now expected restrictions on domestic travel will be brought forward.

Shortages

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Roads Hildegarde Naughton said the chaos at the UK's ports should not lead to shortages of goods here,

Ms Naughton said Irish ports remain fully open to freight arriving from the UK if trucks crossing Britain are able to reach ports on the Irish Sea.

"There is no direct impact to supply chains at the moment," Ms Naughton said.

She conceded the disruption seen in the past 24 hours had been "unprecedented".

However, the president of the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) Eugene Drennan blasted the Government for what he said was a failure to act to safeguard Ireland's freight connectivity with mainland Europe.

"I am very concerned about the damage being done to Ireland," said Mr Drennan.

"If we cannot service our market and we cannot service the delivery of our goods from Ireland to the EU, this takes the competitive edge off the country.

Mr Drennan said the Irish trucks trying to make their way to the continent via the UK are typically carrying a wide range of products, from fresh food and fish to tech products.

As many as 2,000 trucks a day will use the ports this week, he said.

An Post has also warned customers that last-minute post to and from Ireland to the UK and the rest of Europe will be delayed.

This is due to serious disruption to international supply lines via the UK as European countries including Belgium, Sweden and Germany have temporarily suspended all dispatches to Britain.

However, all letters and packages previously sent before or on the advised posting dates are on schedule to be delivered by Christmas Eve.


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