IRELAND IS under nationwide Level 5 restrictions for the next six weeks, with new rules coming into effect from midnight tomorrow.
But what does Level 5 mean and what are the new rules?
Why are we going into Level 5 restrictions?
Ireland has experienced a surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, and the numbers keep going up.
Level 3 restrictions were implemented first, but Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said yesterday that it appeared these restrictions were not working.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced the restrictions yesterday in a televised speech and said ""The reality of this terrible disease is that when we give it opportunities to spread, it spreads. And when it spreads, it consumes large parts of our daily lives and whole sections of the economy."
He added "the Government cannot stop it on its own", and while "many people have done everything that has been asked of them ... some have not".
Ireland's strategy is to suppress the virus when it is growing and reopening the country as much as possible when it is reducing-- this will continue until a vaccine is found, Mr Martin added.
How is Level 5 different to the lockdown?
Level 5 is set to come into effect at Midnight on Wednesday, and is largely similar to the lockdown we experienced in March and April this year.
There are some differences, however-- schools will remain open this time around.
The Taoiseach said: "This is necessary because we cannot and will not allow our children and young people's futures to be another victim of this disease. They need their education."
The construction industry will also remain open, unlike earlier this year. This, Micheál Martin said, is to "tackle the country's homelessness and housing crisis."
So, what are the rules of Level 5?
Schools, childcare and creches
Schools and creches will remain open under Level 5 in order to protect children and young people's education. "we cannot and will not allow our children and young people's futures to be another victim of this disease," the Taoiseach said.
Playgrounds will also remain open with protective measures in place.
University programmes have been mostly moved online.
Under Level 5, you must work from home unless it is entirely impossible or you are an essential frontline worker.
Under Level 5, all non-essential retail will close. Essential retail and services such as grocery shops, pharmacies and construction will remain open-- everything else must close. For a full list of what is classified as 'essential' retail and services, you can visit the Government website here.
Everyone must remain at home unless shopping for essential items, travelling to the workplace if an essential worker, attending a medical appointment, for farming purposes, to attend a wedding or funeral or to visit a grave.
You may leave your house for exercise but must remain within 5km from your home.
Hotels and hostels will remain open only for provision of essential services, such as accommodating frontline workers.
Public transport will be further restricted to just 25% capacity, and citizens are urged to walk or cycle where possible, leaving public transport free for frontline and essential workers to attend their job. Everybody must wear a mask at all times on public transport.
School transport remains unaffected.
Visits and Gatherings
Under Level 5, no household visits are allowed, either indoors or outside in a garden.
Two households may meet in an outdoor public setting, such as a park, including for exercise, but social distancing measures must remain in place.
If a person is living alone, they may make a 'social bubble'with one other household, in which case visitation would be allowed.
No organised indoor or outdoor event may take place-- this includes conferences, Arts events or training events.
Weddings and Funerals
Weddings can go ahead with up to 25 guests allowed to attend, either indoors or outdoors.
Funerals are restricted to 10 attendees, however.
No training or matches are allowed to take place, or group exercise or dance classes. People may train on their own outdoors.
There are some exceptions to this however: the inter-county GAA games will take place behind closed doors, ans can other elite sports-- including Greyhound racing.
Children can play non-contact training outdoors, in pods of up to 15.
Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools will be closed.
Mass and Religious Services
Under Level 5 restrictions, all Religious Services will be moved online. This means you cannot attend mass in person bu can watch a streamed version on a website, Facebook or on the radio.
Pubs, cafés and restaurants
Under Level 5, pubs, cafés and restaurants must close to the public except for takeaway or delivery. Wet pubs in Dublin however remain closed.
Visiting nursing homes, care homes and other long-term residential care facilities
Under Level 5, visitations to nursing and care homes are suspended-- however there are exceptions to this in the specific circumstances, such as visits required for critical and compassionate circumstances.
Over 70's and the medically vulnerable
If you are over the age of 70 or classed as medically vulnerable, you do not have to self-isolate or cocoon, but it is recommended that you exercise personal judgement.
The Government advice is to stay home as much as possible and limit engagements to a very small network for short periods of time while maintaining social distancing.
When exercising outdoors, it is recommended that you keep a 2m distance from any other person and wash your hands as soon as your return home.
Shops may introduce designated hours for the elderly or medically vulnerable, and it is recommended that you use these hours where possible, avoid public transport and wear a mask when indoors in a public setting.
The full and comprehensive list of Level 5 restrictions can be found on the Government website here.