New restrictions being considered to control Covid-19 over Christmas

Public health officials will consider new restrictions Thursday as part of an effort to keep Covid-19 under control over the Christmas period.

Several officials said they expect the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) to discuss whether to recommend limiting restrictions at its meeting Thursday, given persistently high infection levels and the unknown impact of the Omicron variant.

Harsh measures along the lines of lockdown are not expected to form part of the discussions, however, with the focus instead on limiting social contact and reducing crowding at hospitality venues.

Such an approach could see capacity limits for recommended in-house hospitality settings, restrictions on booking sizes and reduced opening hours, or enhanced use of Covid certification. Counseling about home visits is also likely to be considered.

Tanist Leo Varadkar told a meeting of his parliamentary party, Fine Gael, that he was «skeptical» that new restrictions were necessary, as the disease tracked optimistic expectations.

However, he noted, coronavirus cases remained at a high level and that more people would socialize over Christmas. Varadkar told Nphet on Monday that he should develop an excessive set of additional restrictions to deploy if the situation worsens, rather than implementing new rules now, it is understood.

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