Covid Ireland: the main restrictions should remain in place until the end of January

It looks like a number of Covid restrictions will remain in place this month as health officials try to control the current spike in the number of cases.

HSE chief Paul Reid confirmed on Monday morning that there are now more than 1,000 people hospitalized with the virus as the system faces incredible pressure and staff shortages from Covid.

Although an official announcement on the easing of the current measures is yet to come, according to reports, officials remain “anxious” about the lifting of reception restrictions after 21,384 cases were reported yesterday.

It is hoped that some easing of measures will be seen in some areas of society in the coming weeks, however, there are a few that will likely stay put for the month of January.

Measures currently in place include an 8:00 p.m. curfew for all restaurants, bars and cafes, excluding take-out or delivery services, which also applies to hotel restaurants and bars, to the except residents who stay overnight.

Covid Ireland: Restrictions expected to remain in place until end of January

Strict social distancing rules are also in place at all bars and restaurants, including hotels, and means:

  • Covid passes are required
  • Table service only (no counter service)
  • 1 meter between tables
  • Maximum 6 adults per table (maximum 15 people including children 12 and under)
  • No multiple table reservations and no mixing
  • Masks when not seated at the table

Nightclubs across the country also remain closed – and are not expected to reopen until the end of the month.

Dublin-based restaurateur Gary Smith told Newstalk he believes the time is right to ease restrictions on hospitality to allow the industry to recover.

He explained that many companies have spent a fortune building outdoor spaces to accommodate the new rules, but with an early curfew, many are struggling.

Covid Ireland: Restrictions expected to remain in place until end of January
Covid Ireland: Restrictions expected to remain in place until end of January

“We all invested quite heavily in outdoor spaces three or four months ago, when we were told this was the way to go,” he said.

“If there is to be an 8pm curfew, I don’t understand why it has to be in place for outdoor dining, especially since it was announced very, very recently by the government as to where we should spend our money.

“8pm, it might sound small and trivial, but it just doesn’t make sense. That time between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. is usually when you would balance your books.

“No one likes to have their meal at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.”

Other measures that remain in place across Ireland today are a cap on visitors to private homes, which should always be limited to a maximum of 3 other households (i.e. 4 households in total).

Participation in indoor events should be limited to 50% of site capacity or 1,000 participants, whichever is lower.

As for outdoor events, they should be limited to 50% of the room’s capacity or 5,000 participants, whichever is lower.

Everyone should continue to work from home unless it is necessary to come to the workplace in person.

Share your take on the reopening of schools below, or click here.

Joshua B. Speller