IRELAND is on the verge of being plunged back into lockdown and Leo Varadkar has warned that the restrictions could last until Spring-time.
On Tuesday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced that the country would once again be implementing Level Five restrictions - just weeks after exiting lockdown at the start of the month - due to a "gravely concerning" recent surge in Covid-19 case numbers.
As per yesterday's announcement, Ireland is moving to Level Five of the Living with Covid plan, with a "number of specific adjustments".
On Christmas Eve, pubs and restaurants will be shut, then on Boxing Day, inter-county travel will be banned, as will meeting with more than one other household.
The UK travel ban has been extended to New Year's Eve, religious services will be moved online and personal services such as hairdressers and beauticians will close.
These restrictive measures will run until January 12, unless stated otherwise, when a Government review will take place.
Though Tánaiste Varadkar has warned that they could last until as late as March.
"It will probably be towards the end of February or early March before a critical mass of the population is vaccinated and I think we need to operate on the basis that these restrictions will be in place until then," he said.
Varadkar went on to say that no one expected closures to happen so quickly, and that the shutting down of the hospitality sector for the third time this year was devastating for both businesses and staff.
"While there may have been an expectation they may have to close for a certain period in January, nobody, as recently as this weekend, thought it would happen so soon," he added.