Coronavirus Ireland: What happens if we are under Level 3 restrictions this Christmas?
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Coronavirus Ireland: What happens if we are under Level 3 restrictions this Christmas?

IRELAND IS currently under nationwide Level 3 restrictions following a spike in coronavirus cases across the country.

The new measures are in effect in every county in the Republic for at least three weeks, but could be extended if the number of cases do not stabilise.

Ireland's Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, has already warned that Ireland is facing Covid-19 restrictions for at least a further six to nine months, and the public have been urged to plan for Christmas and Halloween "within a Covid-19 environment".

So, what happens if we are still under Level 3 restrictions this Christmas?

 

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What have politicians said about Christmas in Ireland this year?

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the Government hope to allow people to travel abroad to see family this Christmas.

He acknowledged that Ireland has some of the strictest coronavirus rules in Europe, but said if we want to live with the virus long-term that means allowing more air travel and giving more travel options for the public.

Leo Varadkar said he hopes we will be able to visit family abroad this Christmas (Getty)

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he would love to see the virus suppressed so that family members will be able to visit their loved ones in nursing homes this Christmas.

He said restrictions were "heartbreaking" for residents, family, and staff and said by Christmas the hoped " the most liberal visiting regime that we could have safely is brought in."

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Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu, welcomed the news that Ireland's largest indoor Christmas festival 'Mistletown' is set to go ahead in Dublin despite coronavirus restrictions.

She said: "Mistletown is a fantastic initiative, and presents an opportunity for attendees to enjoy a festive event in a safe and socially distant manner."

 

What have health experts said about Christmas in Ireland in 2020?

Former Acting Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn said the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has no plans to  prevent public celebrations of Christmas, but admitted that final decisions would likely be made closer to the time.

He said, "The single greatest predictor of how safe it will be to participate in activities, either at Halloween or Christmas or any other time, is the underlying circulating levels of the virus."

Professor Pete Lunn, head of the Economic and Social Research Institute's Behavioural Research Unit said we should "Plan for the milestones such as ... Christmas and New Year's Eve within a Covid-19 environment.

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"Be innovative in how you can celebrate safely with loved ones."

 

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said the country could get through Christmas "very well" if cases drop to around 50 cases per day by mid-December.

"It's in our minds, we haven't had an expressed conversation about Christmas, but each of us is conscious-- we all live in this country, we know what it's like here."

Getty

He warned that the R number could rise during Christmas as people will want to gather with friends and family, and acknowledged that as a country, we may "not be as adherent to some of the rules as we should be".

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"Christmas will be a challenging time, what we have to try and ensure is we get the disease as low as possible before that," he concluded.

Professor Philip Nolan agreed that "we can still save Christmas, I presume, if we do the right thing over the next three weeks".

It is the responsibility of each individual to follow public health advice and Level 3 restrictions in order to get the numbers of cases to stabilise and subsequently drop, he advised.

What will happen this Christmas under the current coronavirus restrictions?

 

Visiting family in Ireland

The Government have introduced a ban on household gatherings unless it is from just one other household and the number of people is under six.

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This means, should Level 3 restrictions still be in place on Christmas day, you will be able to hold a Christmas dinner with one other household so long as there is no more than six people present.

 

Christmas Markets

Under Level 3, no organised indoor or outdoor gatherings can take place-- this includes audiences at conferences, training events and sports events.

A maximum of 15 people can attend organised outdoor events. This means Christmas markets might go ahead, but with pre-booked timeslots with just 15 people allowed in at one time.

Mass

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Attending Christmas Day or Midnight Mass is the most important Christmas traditions for countless people in Ireland-- but will it take place in person or will we be watching online?

Under Level 3 of the Government's Living With Covid Plan, religious services must move online, so if the restrictions continue we could be watching our local Christmas Day mass on Facebook or Youtube. Churches and other places of worship will remain pen for private prayer, however.

 

12 Pubs of Christmas

A relatively new, but quickly popular tradition, the 12 Pubs of Christmas sees groups of friends travelling to 12 different pubs in one night, with different rules-- such as no swearing allowed-- in place for each one.

Should Ireland remain in Level 3 by Christmas time, all pubs will only be able to serve up to 15 customers in total, and only outdoors-- which won't be fun in the middle of winter.

 

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Christmas Shopping

Essential retail outlets have remained open throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and this will continue even if Ireland goes into lockdown again.

And when it comes to shopping for Christmas presents, such as toys, jewellery and clothes, under Level 3 all retail outlets will remain open, so you can shop local for your loved ones.

Visiting family abroad at Christmas

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the Government hope to allow people to travel abroad to see family this Christmas.

He acknowledged that Ireland has some of the strictest coronavirus rules in Europe, but said if we want to live with the virus long-term that means allowing more air travel and giving more travel options for the public.

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