"We have to plan on the basis that Covid-19, unfortunately, will be with us certainly through the early and mid-part of 2021"
People, businesses, sporting and community organisations all over Donegal are this afternoon digesting today's announcement from the Government of its medium-term plan for Living with Covid-19.
The new measures will come into effect from midnight. However, the reopening of pubs will not commence until September 21.
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath said the plan would cover the next six to nine months as it is not certain that there will be any progress in a vaccine over that period of time.
"We have to plan on the basis that Covid-19, unfortunately, will be with us certainly through the early and mid-part of 2021 and that poses a challenge for us financially, but more importantly from a health perspective," he said.
The key points from the new road map show the 'framework for restrictive measures' consists of five levels.
The lower levels will be activated when there is low incidence of the disease, with isolated outbreaks, low community transmission.
The higher levels will be used to deal with higher incidences of the disease.
Level 1 involves the least amount of restrictions - it does not apply to anywhere at present as the whole country is on Level 2.
Level 1 will allow up to 10 visitors from up to three households to your house. Up to 100 people will be able to attend weddings and organised indoor gatherings (eg: business meetings).
Up to 500 people will be able to attend outdoor venues with a minimum accredited capacity of 5,000 with a maximum of 200 patrons allowed in most other outdoor venues.
Nightclubs, discos and casinos will remain closed under Level 1.
Level 2 applies to the country at present (with some exceptions for Dublin, see below).
Visitors from one other household only or up to six visitors from two to three other households are allowed in your home.
All the other provisions for Level 2 are outlined below under various categories (sports, weddings etc)
Level 3 restrictions will limit visitors to your home to one other household only (this has been introduced in Dublin). No social or family gatherings should take place in other settings.
Weddings will be limited to 25 while outdoor gatherings will be capped at 15. Sports training can continue but no matches will be allowed.
All museums and galleries will be closed and there will be additional restrictions for indoor dining in pubs and restaurants.
Level 4 - keeping schools and childcare services open will remain a priority. No visitors will be allowed to your home and weddings will be limited to six people.
Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools will be closed and in-person religious services cancelled. Funerals will have a cap of 25 mourners.
There will be no indoor dining allowed and pubs will only be allowed to serve 15 customers outdoors.
Level 5 will be similar to Level 4 but with domestic travel restrictions in place. People will be advised to stay at home and only exercise within 5km of where they live.
However, schools and creches can remain open with protective measures in place.
Weddings remain capped at 50 on Level 2 but if we move to Level 3, a gathering of 100 is allowed.
Pubs that do not serve food can open under Level 2 (except for Dublin) with robust protective measures in place.
Maximum numbers linked to capacity of establishment but with individual groups limited to six people from no more than three households.
Pubs that do not serve food can open on September 21 except for those in Dublin
The Government is engaging with member states to finalise a new framework.
International travel will be governed by European Commission proposals in the medium-term.
In the meantime, Ireland's Green List of safe travel countries will be updated.
Under Level 2, up to 100 patrons/spectators are allowed outdoors and 50 patrons/spectators indoors.
Up to 200 attendees allowed for outdoor stadia or other fixed outdoor venues with a minimum accredited capacity of 5,000. However, this does not yet apply in Dublin.
Outdoor training can take place in pods of up to 15. Indoor training, exercise and dance classes can take place in pods of up to six inside.
Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools can open with protective measures, taking account of public health advice, including social distancing.
The current Level 2 guidance is that the limit remains at 50. If we move to Level 3, then the numbers can go up to 100.
A €600m winter package has been introduced to develop and protect the health services up to next March.
The flu vaccine will be free to all vulnerable groups including children under 12.
There will also be increased mental health supports.
At the current Level 2, up to 50 patrons are permitted at smaller venues and 100 at larger venues
Arts, culture and music
Under the current Level 2, up to 50 patrons are permitted (and in pods or groups of up to six if appropriate) for arts events with arrangements to ensure no intermingling of groups.
Up to 100 patrons are permitted for larger venues where strict two metre seated social distancing and one-way controls for entry and exit can be implemented.
Key business supports will remain in place until March 31 2021. The PUP will now be open to new entrants. A series of local activation measures will be introduced.
People are still encouraged to work from home under the current Level 2.
Religious services and funerals
Level 2 allows for a capacity of greater than 50 in separated sub-groupings of no more than 50, with additional protective measures as per guidelines.
Up to 50 mourners can attend a funeral.
Rising rates of infection in the capital can be reversed by adhering to the guidance, said Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar urged Dubliners to follow the four Ws: "Welcome no more than one other household to your home, wash your hands, watch your distance - stay two metres apart - and wear a face covering when necessary."
Pubs that do not serve food will not now reopen in the capital next week.
No more than two households can meet at one time. Up to six people will be able to visit another person's home but they must all come from a single household, compared to three households elsewhere in the country.
The exemption allowing a maximum number of 200 patrons at certain outdoor venues with a 5,000 capacity will not yet apply in Dublin.
There is also strong advice that people should try to avoid travelling outside the capital where possible. When outside the county, they should not meet up with more than one other household.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) will remain the key body providing public health advice to Government but a new group chaired by secretary general of Department of the Taoiseach will be set up for "enhanced cooperation" between various departments.
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