Ireland brings in 8pm closing time for pubs and restaurants amid Omicron fears – World News

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The Irish parliament was yesterday told that Omicron accounted for 27 per cent of Covid cases in the country – double the number from two days earlier

Hospitality venues will have to close early in Ireland

Pubs and restaurants will be forced to shut at 8pm in Ireland amid fears over the Omicron variant.

The new restrictions will take effect from Sunday and last until the end of January, it was announced this evening.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin warned that the government is expecting to see “a massive rise in infections”.

He said: “Left unchecked this new strain will represent a very significant threat to hospitals and critical care, but also a threat to all of society and the economy.

“It spreads so aggressively throughout all age groups that we are likely to see infections at a rate that is far in excess of anything we’ve seen to date.”

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the country would be in a much better place next year
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POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) had recommended a 5pm curfew on hospitality and a cap on capacity at large outdoor events of 50%, or 5,000 people.

The Nphet recommendations had prompted considerable opposition among some Government backbenchers.

But the chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, told a briefing of journalists that the Cabinet’s decision to close hospitality from 8pm was “a welcome acceptance of the intention of our advice”.

Nphet’s recommendation for a 5pm curfew was part of a “series of recommendations” aimed at reducing the incidence rate, Dr Holohan said.

“The key thing was to drive down, as much as possible, social contact. Contact is going to be a good deal greater in the evening time,” he added.

Supporters claim the move will help slow the spread of the Omicron variant
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Mr Martin said that living with the virus does not mean a return to life before the pandemic.

“It means understanding the disease, monitoring it, making changes when it changes and doing whatever we need to do to product people’s lives and livelihoods.”

He said that he understand the news will be a blow to many families and businesses.

“It is not the news I wanted to bring you and it is not the news you want to hear. We will be in a much better place in 2022,” Mr Martin promised.

“We just need to get to the other side of this Omicron wave as safely as possible.

“This Christmas, please be safe and look after each other.”

The move had prompted considerable opposition among some Government backbenchers.

Yesterday Ireland’s parliament was told that Omicron cases now account for around 27 per cent of all Covid infections – double the figure from two days earlier.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said: “By Tuesday we were reporting 14% of new cases were the Omicron variant… today 27% of all new cases” are Omicron.”

Today the country reported 3,595 Covid cases.

Optimistic models predict 8,000 cases a day and between 650 and 1,000 people in hospital, but there are concerns that increased socialisation at Christmas would exacerbate infections.

Nphet members said that even if the variant turns out to be less severe than the Delta strain, its superior growth rate meant hospitals are still under threat.

Dr Cillian De Gascun said: “It would be great news if it turned out to be less severe, but its growth advantage remains a serious concern.

“It would have to be far, far less severe than Delta for it not to overwhelm our health service.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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