Announcing a series of new measures to deal with the latest wave of Covid-19, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin warned that Ireland must act against the sharp increase in cases.
Speaking to the nation, the Taoiseach announced that the closing time for all licensed hotel businesses will be midnight.
“The increased socialization we now enjoy comes at a cost, and that cost is an increased risk of infection,” said Martin.
Starting Friday, people are also advised to work from home whenever possible.
The Taoiseach has also confirmed that Covid-19 passes will be required for cinemas and theaters.
“We must act now to deal with this wave.”
Taoiseach @MichealMartinTD this evening delivered a speech on additional measures approved by the government to reduce levels of social contact and stop the spread of COVID-19.
Full speech ➡️ https://t.co/wMrRqLne4L pic.twitter.com/kzAsZnthBQ
– MerrionStreet.ie (@merrionstreet) November 16, 2021
Mr Martin described the latest increase in the number of cases as a “dramatic reminder of what this virus can do and the threat it continues to pose.”
“Protecting public health is our primary responsibility,” said Martin.
“The range of measures that we have agreed represent, I believe, an appropriate response to the situation in which we find ourselves.
During his speech, the Taoiseach mentioned that without the vaccination program, “there is no doubt that we would now be in full-scale containment.”
“The vaccination and booster program remains at the heart of our response to the disease,” said Martin.
“Booster shots are currently being given to people over 60 in the community and to those in residential care facilities, people with compromised immune systems and healthcare workers.
“Following last night’s decision, we will now make arrangements for its deployment to everyone in the country with an underlying disease and to anyone over the age of 50.”
Under the new measures announced, regardless of vaccination status, all family contacts close to a confirmed case should now restrict their movements for five days, pending the completion of a recommended antigen test.
Mr Martin confirmed that antigen testing should play a bigger role in society.
During his speech to the nation, Mr. Martin encouraged the population to maintain a collective effort against the virus.
“Our collective effort over so many months, our shared confidence in science and our commitment to the immunization program, have brought us to the point where virtually all of society and the economy have reopened.
“This is just our collective effort – full compliance with the rules that remain in place, making sure we are vaccinated and taking our booster when it becomes available, working from home if we can, wearing our masks, keeping our distances and being aware of our surroundings, it is only this collective effort that will keep our society and our economy open, that will support and maintain our progress, that will keep us healthy and safe.
The announcement of new restrictions comes as the state has registered 4,407 additional new cases.
As of Tuesday morning, there were 614 hospital patients with the disease, including 114 in intensive care.
Speaking on the current rate of the virus, Dr Tony Holohan said it was “not sustainable” as he urged people to get a booster shot if they were eligible.
Government ministers received a stern warning at the cabinet subcommittee meeting on Monday, with estimates that up to 500 people could be in intensive care by next month.
Best-case scenario could see around 200 people in intensive care
– Additional reports by PA