Ireland is moving back into Level 5 lockdown, Taoiseach confirms
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Ireland is moving back into Level 5 lockdown, Taoiseach confirms

IRELAND is to move back into Level Five lockdown from December 24, Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced today.

The restrictions will run until January 12, but will carry with them a number of exemptions.

Restaurants and gastropubs will close at 3pm on Christmas Eve.

Hairdressers and barbers will also close on Christmas Eve, though non-essential retail will remain open, but shops will be asked to postpone January sales.

Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools will remain open for individual training only.

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On December 26, inter-county travel will be banned, while household visits will be reduced to one other household from 27 December.

The UK travel ban has been extended to December 31.

Following a Cabinet meeting this morning, Martin addressed the nation, announcing a number of new lockdown measures.

He insisting that while there was no evidence yet that the new strain of Covid-19 had reached Ireland, the safest thing to do was to act as if it already has.

"Unfortunately in the last week, we have seen extraordinary growth in the spread of the virus," he said.

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"This is the same pattern that we have seen in the UK and across Europe.

"Just this morning, figures suggest that we may now be seeing a daily growth rate of approximately 10%. This is very obviously a source a serious concern, and is simply not sustainable.

"While we do not yet have firm evidence that the new, more virulent strain of the Covid virus is in our country, the rate of growth over the last week tells me, that the safest, and most responsible thing to do is proceed on the assumption that it is already here."