A range of Covid 19 restrictions have been unveiled by the government.
They include the closure of construction sites and schools for the rest of the month, with an exception for Leaving cert students who will attend 3 days a week.
Party leaders are also due to announce negative covid test requirements for people flying into Ireland and an end to the click and collect scheme being operated by retailers.
It comes as a record 921 covid patients are being treated in hospitals today.
“We are in a battle against a deadly and ever changing virus, the lockdown we are introducing today is designed to reflect that stark reality. Unless you are involved in absolutely essential work you simply must stay at home,” says Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
– Schools –
Schools remain closed until 1st February, except for the provision of special education (special schools and special classes) and specialised settings (such as Oberstown and high support special care schools and youth encounter projects) which will continue fully open from 11th January.
All 6th year Leaving Certificate students to attend school for 3 days a week commencing from week beginning 11th January.
Youthreach services will resume as scheduled.
School transport will be available for all students attending school.
Teachers, SNAs and other school staff will be allowed to travel to school as essential workers.
School buildings will be open to allow for staff to facilitate distance learning.
Guidance services and supports will continue to be available to students and can be made available in the manner deemed appropriate by the school.
– Construction –
Construction will close from 6pm Friday 8th January, with limited exceptions including:
Essential health and related projects including those relevant to preventing, limiting, minimising or slowing the spread of Covid-19.
Social housing projects, including voids, designated as essential sites by Local Authorities based on set criteria.
Housing adaptation grants where the homeowner is agreeable to adaptions being undertaken in their home.
Repair, maintenance and construction of critical transport and utility infrastructure.
Education facilities sites designated as essential by Department of Education.
Supply and delivery of essential or emergency maintenance and repair services to businesses and places of residence (including electrical, gas, plumbing, glazing and roofing services) on an emergency call-out basis.
Certain large construction projects in the exporting / FDI sector based on set criteria.
– International Travel–
The Government also agreed that the current travel moratorium in place for travel from Great Britain and South Africa is extended until midnight Friday 8th January 2021.
From 9th January 2021, all passengers arriving at Irish airports and ports whose journey originates in Great Britain or South Africa will be requested to have evidence of a negative result from a PCR Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours prior to arrival in Ireland.
This new mandatory requirement will be in place until 31st January 2021, and will be kept under review in light of the evolving epidemiological situation.
– Supports –
It is fully recognised that these further restrictions will be very difficult for people.
The Government has also today decided to maintain, at current levels, the payments available under both the Employment Wage Support Scheme (EWSS) and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).
This will ensure continued support for both employers and workers who lose their jobs due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions.
Under the EWSS, which provides a subsidy to qualifying employers to offset payroll costs, a payment of up to €350 per week will continue to be available.
This enhanced payment level, which had been scheduled to fall from 1st February, will remain in place until the 31st March.
Similarly, the PUP, available to those who have lost their jobs, including the self-employed, as a result of COVID-19, will continue to be made available at the current pay-related level of up to €350 a week until 31st March.
This payment level had been scheduled to fall from 1st February.
In addition, the Government continues to make available a wide range of supports for businesses.