Taoiseach Micheál Martin addresses the nation / Picture: Julien Behal Photography
THE GOVERNMENT has agreed to Level 5 restrictions for six weeks from midnight on Wednesday.
The Cabinet have approved a return to the highest restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus.
In an address to the nation this Monday evening, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said schools and crèches will remain open.
"We cannot and will not allow our young people's futures to be another victim of this disease," said Mr Martin, who praised the extraordinary efforts of principals, teachers, cleaners, parents and childcare staff.
Elite level sport will be allowed. It's great news for Limerick GAA fans as John Kiely's men take on Clare in an eagerly awaited clash on Sunday.
Not so good news for bars, cafes, restaurants and wet pubs as they can only offer takeaway or delivery.
Only essential retail outlets are allowed to stay open. All other retail and personal services close.
The construction and manufacturing sectors will be allowed to continue to operate.
The public will be asked to stay within 5kms of their home.
Weddings of up to 25 people allowed at the ceremony. This will not apply to the reception. Under the original Level 5 plan up to 6 guests can attend a wedding ceremony and reception.
People will be allowed to meet outdoors with one other household. Under the original Level 5 plan no social or family gatherings should take place in other settings.
Due to the higher level of restrictions, the Cabinet has decided to introduce a €350 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), for those who had been earning more than €400 per week. Existing PUP recipients who earned more than €400 are to have their rates automatically increased to €350.
There is a four week review mechanism of the six week lockdown.
In closing his address, Mr Martin said that this Christmas will have extra poignancy.
"Even as the winter comes in there is hope and there is light. If we pull together over the next six weeks we can have a Christmas," said Mr Martin, who stressed the importance of Christmas for families and people across the country who have lost so much in 2020.
He said if people stick together for the next six weeks, "we will suppress the virus".
"Our future is in our hands. I am calling on people to dig deep and persevere. We as people are much stronger than we realise. These are the toughest of times - but the Irish people will prevail," concluded the taoiseach.
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