By Dan Walsh
The spirit of Christmas present faded at 8 o’clock tonight when the early closing time called for restaurants, bars and cafés came into effect as part of the new restrictions aimed at assisting the health service cope with the spread of the Omicron variant.
Other restrictions include indoor events scheduled earlier in the day limited to attendance of 50% of capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is lower and outdoor events are also limited to half capacity, to a maximum of 5,000 people.
An Taoiseach Micheál Martin said this will help the country get to the other side of the current wave as safely as possible.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has said the new restrictions will substantially cut the volume of total social contact across society if people follow “not just the letter but the spirit” of the guidelines.
Dr Holohan told RTE News; “it is now down to people individually” to confine social engagements to small groups of people and not to meet up with multiple groups of people over Christmas time. He added people should look to cut out discretionary contacts and that there are no plans to introduce stricter measures before Christmas.
However, he said that NPHET will continue to monitor the situation over Christmas and is available to give more information to the Government if need be.
The restrictions do not apply to takeaway or delivery services. Religious services are exempt. The measures will remain in place until January 30th.