What do the new Covid restrictions mean?

In response to rising infections and pressure on the health service, the government announced further changes to Covid-19 measures on Tuesday, so what will change?

Hospitality

Bars, restaurants and nightclubs will have a new midnight closing time from Thursday, November 18, with all customers required to vacate the premises each evening by then.

The nightly hospitality had to close earlier at 11:30 p.m., before the rules were relaxed last month, allowing nightclubs to reopen for the first time since the early days of Covid-19.

While some nightclubs operate in the same way as normal bars during the early hours, others in the industry see the midnight curfew as an effective closing order.

Hotel bars and restaurants are also subject to the midnight curfew, with an exception for guests staying at the hotel – as was previously the case with restrictions on hospitality.

The midnight closing time applies to events booked in hotels, such as corporate parties, weddings or dinners at golf clubs.

While there were no specific guidelines for office Christmas parties, Taoiseach . was Michael Martin said recent decisions by major companies to cancel upcoming parties were “sensible.”

working from home

People have been advised to go back to work “unless it is necessary” to come to the workplace in person. Many offices had been returning employees to offices since the end of September.

Theaters & Cinemas

The requirement to show a Covid pass, as proof of vaccination or recent recovery, has been extended to cinemas and theatres.

Previously, the passes were mandatory for indoor hospitality, but also for live music events, nightclubs and international travel.

Some cinemas and theaters have already required customers to show Covid certificates, but the latest change will make the requirement mandatory.

There were discussions about whether the Covid pass would be extended to hairdressers and gyms, but those have not been taken into account in the recent decision.

Close contacts

People who are in close contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case in their household are now required to limit their movements for five days, even if they have been vaccinated.

Beforehand, those who had been fully vaccinated were not required to self-isolate or restrict their movements when listed as close contacts.

Labor leader Alan Kelly said that Mr Martin had initially told him that teachers would not be covered by these changes, which Mr Martin believed was incorrect.

Pandemic unemployment benefit

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) scheme, which was set up to support people who have lost their jobs due to Covid-19, will not reopen.

Minister of Social Protection Heather Humphreys said there are plenty of job openings elsewhere in the hospitality and retail sectors for nightclub staff who may lose their jobs. Nightclub owners can use the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme to continue paying staff, she said.

Antigen Testing

A plan to subsidize antigen testing to encourage wider use is coming in the coming days, with the cost of the rapid tests expected to drop from around €8 to €3 per test. The Executive health service currently places free packages of five antigen tests to people listed as close contacts.

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