Covid passes for cinemas and theatres, earlier pub closing to fight virus surge

Closing time for licensed premises will be at 12pm and a return to working from home, unless absolutely necessary are among the measures the Taoiseach, Micheal Martin announced this evening.

Covid passes will be necessary for theatres and cinemas and those in the same household as someone testing positive will have to restrict their movements for five days, regardless of vaccination status.

The Taoiseach said if the number of COVID infections and hospitalisations continues to grow at the rate we are currently seeing, “no that system anywhere in the world would be able to cope.”

“The surge that we are now experiencing is a dramatic reminder of what this virus can do and the threat that it continues to represent.

“We need to act now to deal with this surge. protecting public health is our first responsibility.”

Mr Martin said the government had considered what impact the reopening of hospitality has had on the disease.

“We want hospitality to remain open and we continue to work with the sectors to ensure that the current rules around Covid passes and other protections are being properly observed.

“I want to re emphasise to every business owner and every customer. how important this is.

“When customers are vaccinated, the virus is less likely to spread and is less likely to have a serious impact. Requiring Covid passes is a proportionate and effective public health measure.

He said hospitals and general practices across the country are seeing huge increases in the numbers of people presenting with non Covid problems.

“One example to illustrate this point is the number of our children requiring non Covid hospital care. In the six weeks to mid November 2019. The number of children admitted to hospital was below 12,000. Already, in the same six week period in 2021, more than 20,000 children have been cared for in our hospitals.

“Our doctors, nurses and care staff are doing an exceptional job in very challenging and difficult circumstances.”

The Taoiseach that thy have developed and deployed a massive PCR testing tracing operation but it is still estimated that for every four detected cases, there may be as many as another six asymptomatic undetected cases in the community.

“Clearly, this is too high. This is the fourth surge in infections that we have experienced as a country. But this time it is different because of the extraordinary success of our national vaccination program. Without it, there is no doubt that we would now be in a full scale lockdown.

“Because of the vaccination program and your commitment to it, we are able to keep society and the economy open, but continued progress in the journey to normal conditions is not inevitable.

“The increased socialisation that we are now enjoying comes at a cost and that cost is an increased risk of infection. Our health service which has endured so much since the outbreak of Covid, is managing these increased numbers while also maintaining elective treatment.

“The range of measures that we have agreed represent, I believe, an appropriate response to the situation we find ourselves in.”

Mr Martin said the vaccination and booster program remain at the core of the response to the disease.

“Booster shots are currently being administered to those over 60 in the community and those in residential care facilities, the immunocompromised and health care workers. “Following last night's decision, we will now make arrangements for its rollout to everyone in the country with an underlying condition and to everyone else over the age of 50.”

“It is only our collective effort - full adherence to the rules that remain in place, making sure we are vaccinated and taking our booster when it becomes available., working from home, wearing our masks and keeping our distance that will keep our society and economy safe,” he said.