Ireland to ease Covid-19 curbs from December 1

A 'No hard Border' poster is seen below a road sign on the Irish side of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland near Bridgend, Ireland

The Irish government has announced night that the current Level-5 or the highest Covid-19 restrictions will be lowered to Level-3 on December 1, with some special adjustments made for the upcoming Christmas holiday.

Under the Level-3 restrictions, all the non-essential retail outlets and personal services such as salons can resume business, people can move freely so long as they do not travel outside their own county, and gatherings of no more than 15 people may take place outdoors, according to a statement released by the Irish government on its website on Friday.

Special arrangements “designed to support people to have a meaningful Christmas” will be conducted in separate stages, Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.

On December 1, museums, galleries, libraries and cinemas as well as places of worship will reopen.

From December 4, restaurants and pubs serving food will also be allowed to provide dine-in services with additional restrictions including limited service time for each group of customers, but wet pubs or pubs not serving food will remain closed with only takeaway service being permitted, said the statement.

From December 18 to January 6, people will be allowed to travel outside their county to meet their families for Christmas and mix with up to two other households.

Cross-border travel will also be permitted during this period.

The Level-3 restrictions will remain in place for an indefinite period of time depending on how the pandemic will play out in the country, said the statement.

Ireland adopted a level-5 restrictive approach in dealing with the pandemic last month following a second wave of the pandemic.

Under the Level-5 restrictions, the entire country was virtually locked down with minimum movement of people and economic activities being allowed.

People are not allowed to travel more than 5 km away from their home unless for work, education and other essential purposes.

According to the Department of Health, a total of 71,699 people have been infected with Covid-19 in Ireland and 2,043 others died from the disease.

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