Health Care

Taoiseach confirms current Covid Restrictions to stay in place until March 5th

Taoiseach confirms current Covid Restrictions to stay in place until March 5th”

"If the vaccines come through that we have advanced purchased and if they come in on schedule, then it is reasonable to think that by September every adult could be vaccinated, but with all of those very serious caveats", he added.

Those who fail to produce a negative virus test valid from the past 72 hours will also enter mandatory hotel quarantines, and Martin cancelled short term visa-free travel from South Africa and South America until "at least" March 5.

In most cases arrivals will have to quarantine at home but "it will be mandatory, not advisory for the first time" since the government started enacting pandemic restrictions, Varadkar said.

The Cabinet Sub-Committee on COVID-19 will meet later today to discuss more strict rules on worldwide travel.

The new measures would take a "few weeks" to operationalise, Mr Varadkar said.

"It's not as simple as putting a seal on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, it's a seamless interaction", Martin continued.

"It's not a system of mandatory quarantine".

Questions were also raised at the meeting about how mandatory quarantining at home could be policed.

Two-thirds of cases in Ireland can now be attributed to the more contagious United Kingdom variant, the Minister for Health said.

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"I want to make a very clear that there will be no half measures from me as Taoiseach, or from Government, in ensuring a prolonged suppression of this virus", Mr Martin said.

Mr Martin was responding to criticism from the leader of the Opposition, Mary Lou McDonald. She called for all passengers to be held in quarantine hotels instead.

"What we got is a Government that is clearly at sixes and sevens, with no idea of how to proceed beyond March 5th", The Dublin Central TD said.

The new measures were agreed by the Cabinet sub-committee on Monday.

On his way into Cabinet this morning, Micheál Martin told reporters: "As has been flagged, the restrictions will continue to the 5th of March".

People breaching the 5km travel limit will be subject to increased fines. The Taoiseach said the fines would be €500.

Extra gardai will patrol airports and ports and anyone who is found breaching travel restrictions will face increased fines.

Under the Level-5 restrictions, people's movement is restricted to be within five kilometers of their home unless for some essential reasons, while all non-essential retail outlets and most of the indoor cultural and recreational facilities are ordered to be closed, bringing the country virtually to a standstill.

Regulations for some of the new rules will be signed this week but new legislation will have to be drafted for other elements of the Government's travel restrictions.

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