Taoiseach Micheál Martin addressing the nation Monday. Julien Behal Photography/RollingNews.ie.
By Anthony Neeson
The Republic of Ireland will move into Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions from Wednesday, the new measures lasting six weeks. The North is also moving into a new phase of severe restrictions (See Page 5).
the move in the South comes just two weeks after the government rejected a call by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to move to the highest level to curb the spread of the virus.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has called on the public to take the threat from Covid seriously. People will not be able to travel more than five kilometers from their home, but unlike back in the spring schools will remain open.
Under the new plan, construction will also remain open, non-essential retail will close, while pubs and restaurants will only be able to serve takeaway. Weddings will be limited to 25 guests.
In a U-turn the government has agreed to restore the €350 a week Pandemic Unemployment Payment for people who had prior earnings of €400 or above.
Elite sports such as inter-county GAA matches, Airtricity soccer league, international and Pro14 rugby games and horse racing can take place.
Speaking to the nation on Monday evening, the taoiseach called on people to work together in the time ahead.
“I understand the sense of disappointment, loneliness and despair this announcement will bring,” he said.
“Even as the winter comes in there is hope and there is light. If we pull together over the next six weeks we will be able to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way.”
The opposition Sinn Féin party welcomed the move.
Sinn Féin TD Claire Kerrane also welcomed the restoration of the €350 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
“This week has seen an increase of over 15,000 people claiming the PUP,” she said.
“This is a result of the increased Covid-19 related restrictions in Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan.
“Over the coming days, with Level 5 restrictions to come into effect statewide, tens of thousands of other workers will become unemployed through no fault of their own.”
On Monday, October 19, there were 1,031 new cases of Covid-19 in the Republic with no further deaths reported.