The Government has decided this evening that, from Midnight on Wednesday, the entire country will be placed on Level 5 of the Framework for Restrictive Measures for a period of six weeks due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in Ireland.
Ireland will remain at Level 5 for a period of 6 weeks. The restrictions are to be reviewed in 4 weeks time.
The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) is also being increased to €350 for those on prior earnings of €400+ per week.
The Government has decided today that, as of midnight on Wednesday 21st October, all of Ireland will be placed on Level 5 of the Plan for Living with COVID with a small number of exceptions as set out below. This action is based on current public health advice, the deteriorating situation with the disease across the country and the Government’s objectives to support families by keeping schools and childcare facilities open, maintaining non Covid health services and protecting the vulnerable.
Level 5 restrictions will remain in place for a period of 6 weeks. Given the difficulties that these restrictions place on individuals and families across the State, the risk of job losses and of poverty and homelessness, the Government has agreed that the moratorium on evictions be reinstated and that Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme be amended to reflect these challenges.
Placing the country at Level 5 Restrictions will have the following implications:
- People are asked to stay at home. People should work from home unless providing an essential service for which their physical presence is required (see below for essential services).
- People will be permitted to exercise within a radius of 5 km of their home.
- There will be a penalty for movement outside 5km of home, with exemptions to this for essential work and essential purposes (see notes to editors).
- In line with current NPHET advice in respect of Level 5, schools, early learning and childcare services will continue to remain open and are deemed essential.
- In addition, in recognition of the impact on children and young people of restrictions, non-contact training can continue for school aged children, outdoors in pods of 15. All other training activities should be individual only, with some exemptions, see below.
- There should be no visits to other people’s homes or gardens.
- However, there will be the concept of an extended household (or support bubble) for defined categories of individuals to support those at risk of social isolation and/or mental ill-health (see notes to editors).
- No social/family gatherings should take place, with the exemptions to this for weddings and funerals (see below).
- It is possible to meet with one other household in an outdoor setting which is not a home or garden, such as a park, including for exercise.
- There should be no organised indoor or outdoor events.
- Essential retail and essential services will remain open (see below).
- Public transport will operate at 25% capacity for the purposes of allowing those providing essential services to get to work [School transport unaffected].
- In line with current NPHET advice in respect of Level 5, professional, elite sports and inter-county Gaelic games, horse-racing and greyhound racing can continue behind closed doors.
- Bars, cafes, restaurants and wet pubs may provide take-away and delivery services only. Wet pubs in Dublin remain closed.
- Hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs may remain open, but only to support provision of essential services.
- Those aged over 70 and the medically vulnerable are advised to continue to exercise personal judgement. It is recommended that they stay at home as much as possible, limit engagement to a very small network for short periods of time, while remaining physically distanced. When taking exercise outdoors, it is important to maintain 2 metres distance from others and wash hands on returning home. It is recommended to shop during designated hours only, while wearing a face covering, and to avoid public transport.
- Religious services will be available online.
- Museums, galleries and other cultural attractions will remain closed.
- Libraries will be available for online services only.
- Outdoor playgrounds, play areas and parks will remain open with protective measures.
- Visits to Long Term Residential Care facilities are suspended with the exception of visits required for critical and compassionate circumstances
Essential purposes for travel (permitted outside 5k limit)
- Travel to and from work, where work involves providing an essential service (see below)
- To attend medical appointments and collect medicines and other health products
- For vital family reasons, such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, and in particular for those who live alone, as part of an extended household but excluding social family visits
- To attend a wedding or funeral
- For farming purposes i.e. food production and/or care of animals
- To visit a grave
Exemptions for weddings (irrespective of venue): Up to 25 guests for wedding ceremony and reception.
Exemption for funerals: Up to 10 mourners.
No training or matches should take place, with the exception of professional, elite sports and inter-county Gaelic games, horse-racing and greyhound racing, which are being permitted to continue behind closed doors.
Extended Household Concept
In order to support those who risk isolation, such as single adult households and those who have shared parenting or shared custody arrangements; those living alone who have mental health challenges, or those living with partner with dementia for example, it will be possible for those in such circumstances to nominate one other household with whom they can mix. This will allow for social support beyond the caring exemptions already available.
Amendments to PUP and EWSS
We know the move to Level 5 will have a significant impact on businesses – we know many people will temporarily lose their jobs on Thursday
As a result of the fact that businesses have to close we are making changes to the PUP and the EWSS
The new payment structure for the PUP is as follows, with the rate of €350 restored to those who were earning in excess of €400 per week:
|Prior Weekly Earnings (Gross)||PUP Payment|
|€200 – €299.99||€250|
|€300 – €399.99||€300|
This change to payment rates will apply for payments issued from Tuesday 27th October (PUP is paid weekly on a Tuesday) in respect of all existing and new applicants.
The EWSS is also being amended to align with the amendment to PUP. This means here will be 5 payment rates/bands as follows:
f) 0 – €151 = €0
g) >€151 < €203 = €203
h) >€203 < €300 = €250
i) >€300 < €400 = €300
j) >€400< €1,462 = €350
The main aim of this scheme is to ensure where possible employees retain their link with their employer rather than become unemployed. This revised scheme will run to end January 2021.
Essential Retail Outlets
Retailers with mixed retail offering which have discrete spaces for essential and non-essential retail should make arrangements for the separation of relevant areas.
1. Outlets selling food or beverages on a takeaway basis, or newspapers, whether on a retail or wholesale basis and whether in a non-specialised or specialised outlet.
2. Markets that, wholly or principally, offer food for sale.
3. Outlets selling products necessary for the essential upkeep and functioning of places of residence and businesses, whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
4. Pharmacies, chemists and retailers or wholesalers providing pharmaceuticals or pharmaceutical or dispensing services, whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
5. Outlets selling health, medical or orthopaedic goods in a specialised outlet, whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
6. Fuel service stations and heating fuel providers.
7. Outlets selling essential items for the health and welfare of animals (including animal feed and veterinary medicinal products, pet food, animal bedding and animal supplies), whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
8. Laundries and drycleaners.
9. Banks, post offices and credit unions.
10. Outlets selling safety supplies (including work-wear apparel, footwear and personal protective equipment), whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
11. Hardware outlets, builders’ merchants and outlets that provide, whether on a retail or wholesale basis –
(a) hardware products necessary for home and business maintenance or construction and development,
(b) sanitation and farm equipment, or
(c) supplies and tools essential for farming or agriculture purposes.
12 Outlets providing for the repair and maintenance of mechanically propelled vehicles or bicycles and any related facilities (including tyre sales and repairs).
13. The following outlets, insofar as they offer services on an emergency basis only:
(a) Optician and optometrist outlets.
(b) Outlets providing hearing test services or selling hearing aids and appliances.
(c) Outlets selling office products and services for businesses or for relevant persons working from their respective places of residence, whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
(d) Outlets providing electrical, information and communications technology and telephone sales, repair and maintenance services for places of residence and businesses.
14. Any other retail outlet that operates an online or other remote system of ordering goods for purposes of collection at the retail outlet.
15. Outlets selling food or beverages whether on a retail or wholesale basis and whether in a non-specialised or specialised outlet –
(a) insofar as they sell food or beverages on a takeaway basis or for consumption off the premises,
(b) insofar as they are staff canteens operating for the exclusive use of persons working in, or at, a particular premises, or
(c) subject to paragraph 8 of Part 2, hotels or similar accommodation services insofar as they sell food or beverages for consumption on the premises by residents of the service.
Physical attendance at workplaces is only permitted for those providing the following services where such services can only be provided in person and cannot be delivered remotely. It does not include administrative and other support for such businesses and services unless specified in section 13 and the physical presence of a worker is required.
Agriculture, horticulture, forestry, fishing, animal welfare and related services
1. The following services relating to agriculture, horticulture, forestry, fishing, animal welfare and related services:
(b) farm labour;
(c) farm relief services;
(d) crop and animal production;
(e) fishing for commercial purposes;
(f) aquaculture and fish farming;
(i) veterinary, animal welfare and related services;
(j) marts held online only;
(k) the provision of support services relating to any of the services specified in subparagraphs (a) to (j) (including artificial insemination and animal disposal).
2. The following services relating to manufacturing:
(a) the manufacture, production or processing of food and beverage products;
(b) the manufacture, production or processing of animal feeds;
(c) the manufacture of work-wear apparel, personal protective equipment or footwear;
(d) the manufacture of wood pulp, paper and paperboard;
(e) the operation of sawmills and the processing of wood and cork;
(f) the printing and reproduction of newspapers and other media services;
(g) the distillation of coke and refined petroleum products;
(h) the refining of alumina;
(i) the manufacture of chemicals and chemical products;
(j) the manufacture of pharmaceutical products and preparations;
(k) the manufacture of products necessary for the supply chain of essential services;
(l) the manufacture of products necessary for national and international supply chains, other than such supply chains referred to in subparagraph (k);
(m) the manufacture of computers, electronic and optical products (including semi-conductors);
(n) the manufacture of electrical equipment, machinery and other equipment (including agricultural and forestry machinery);
(o) the manufacture of medical devices or appliances;
(p) the manufacture of medicinal, health, dental and other personal hygiene products, equipment, appliances and supplies.
Supply, repair and installation of machinery and equipment
3. The following services relating to the supply, repair and installation of machinery and equipment:
(a) the supply, repair and installation of machinery and equipment (including mechanically propelled vehicles, industrial machinery and equipment) for essential services;
(b) the repair of mechanically propelled vehicles or the repair of bicycles and related facilities.
Electricity, gas, water, sewage and waste management
4. The following services relating to electricity, gas, water, sewage and waste management:
(a) the generation, transmission, supply and distribution of electric power;
(b) the extraction and distribution of gas and decommissioning activities in relation to offshore gas filed facilities;
(c) the collection, treatment and supply of water;
(d) the collection, treatment and disposal of sewage or wastewater;
(e) the collection of waste, remediation activities and other waste management treatment and disposal activities (including the operation of landfill sites, waste transfer stations, waste processing centres and recycling facilities or waste recovery).
Construction and development
5. The following services relating to construction and development:
(a) construction or development work and the provision of support services relating to construction and development work;
(b) the repair, maintenance and construction of road, rail and utility infrastructure;
(c) the supply and delivery of maintenance and repair services to businesses and places of residence (including electrical, gas, plumbing, glazing and roofing services).
Wholesale and retail trade
6. The following services relating to wholesale and retail trade:
(a) the operation of essential retail outlets;
(b) wholesale and distribution services necessary for ensuring the availability for sale of food, beverages, fuel, medicinal products, medical devices or appliances, other medical or health supplies or products, essential items for the health and welfare of animals, or supplies for the essential upkeep and functioning of a place of residence;
(c) the operation of automated teller machines and related services.
Transport, storage and communications
7. The following services relating to transport, storage and communications:
(a) the provision of land transport, including bus, rail and taxi services;
(b) road, rail, sea and air freight;
(c) the provision of sea and air passenger services;
(d) the operation of ports, harbours and airports;
(e) the operation of lighthouses;
(f) warehousing and support activities (including cargo-handling, postal and courier activities) for the transportation of goods;
(g) the control and critical maintenance of the transport infrastructure network (including roads);
(h) any service required for the safe provision of a service specified in subparagraphs (a) to (g).
Accommodation and food services
8. The following services relating to accommodation and food services provision:
(a) hotel or similar accommodation services to persons who are guests of those hotels or similar accommodation on the 21st day of October 2020 until the date of their departure;
(b) hotel or similar accommodation services to guests travelling for purposes other than social, recreational, cultural or tourist purposes;
(c) the operation of hotels or similar accommodation services providing essential accommodation (including accommodation for homeless persons and persons in direct provision, persons who are unable to reside in their usual place of residence due to reasons related to the spread of Covid-19 or otherwise) and related services;
(d) food and beverage service activities for supply to a business engaged in an essential service;
(e) the provision of food or beverage takeaway or delivery services
Information and communications
9. The following services relating to information and communications:
(a) the production and publication of newspapers, journals and periodicals and the distribution of those publications, whether in hardcopy or digital format;
(b) the production of television and radio programmes, video, sound, digital or other electronic content and the broadcast or publication of the same to the public or a portion of the public;
(c) the provision of services necessary to deliver and support wired telecommunication activities and satellite telecommunication activities and other communications activities (including internet and cloud providers);
(d) the provision of data centre services and related services.
Financial and legal activities
10. The following services relating to financial and legal activities:
(a) financial, insurance and banking services (including post office and credit union services) provided by a financial services provider;
(b) accounting services or audit services;
(c) legal services provided by practising barristers or practising solicitors.
Professional, scientific and technical activities
11. The following services relating to professional, scientific and technical activities:
(a) the provision of engineering, technical testing activities and analysis (including the performance of physical, chemical and other analytical testing of materials and products);
(b) the provision of scientific research and development services;
(c) regulation, inspection and certification services, in accordance with law, of a particular sector by a body created by statute for that purpose.
Rental and leasing activities
12. The provision of a service for the rental or leasing of mechanically propelled vehicles or bicycles.
Administrative and support activities
13. The following services relating to administrative and support activities:
(a) payroll and payment services necessary for the operation of undertakings and bodies;
(b) employment placement and human resources services associated with the recruitment and deployment of workers engaged in the provision of essential services;
(c) data processing, website hosting and related activities;
(d) security activities to assist in either or both of the following:
(i) the delivery of essential services;
(ii) the securing of premises closed to the public;
(e) funeral, burial and related services;
(f) business support services (including information and communications technology support and sales, repair and maintenance for information and communications technology and telephones) where such services are necessary to support –
(i) any other essential service,
(ii) a person working from their place of residence where the business concerned is being operated from a place of residence, or
(iii) a business that is not an essential service, to the extent required to maintain that business in operation or to minimise any delay in the business resuming operation after these Regulations have ceased to be in operation;
(g) where such services are necessary to support any other essential service:
(i) the cleaning of buildings;
(ii) industrial cleaning activities;
(iii) the provision of key third party supports other than those referred to in paragraph (f) provided under contract to a person providing an essential service.
(h) essential health and safety training (that cannot be done remotely)
Public administration, emergency services and defence
14. The following services relating to public administration, emergency services and defence:
(a) the performance by the Garda Síochána, including members and civilian staff of the Garda Síochána, of its functions under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (No. 20 of 2005);
(b) public order, rescue and emergency services (including fire, coastguard, lifeboat, mountain rescue and ambulance services);
(c) the performance by the Defence Forces of the functions conferred on them by or under any enactment;
(d) emergency call answering services;
(e) services to enable the administration of justice;
(f) prison services and child detention services (including all onsite activities);
(g) cyber-security services;
(h) the provision of social protection benefits;
(i) regulatory processes and certification required to ensure supply chains, safety of food, beverages, medicinal products, medical devices or appliances, other medical or health supplies or products, and general process safety;
(j) the operation and maintenance of botanical gardens, parks, forests, nature reserves and playgrounds;
(k) activities relating to the management, protection, restoration and conservation of protected species, habitats and designated natural, archaeological and built heritage sites
(l) security, care and maintenance of premises, collections and objects under the care and management of the National Cultural Institutions
(m) services relating to the deaths and funerals of persons;
(n) chaplaincy services;
(o) services provided or functions performed by an office holder appointed under any enactment or under the Constitution, or members of either House of the Oireachtas, the European Parliament or a local authority;
(p) services provided under the Child Care Act 1991 (No. 17 of 1991);
(q) adoption services under the Adoption Act 2010 (No. 21 of 2010);
(r) services provided to victims;
(s) services, including regulation services, provided by, and activities of, the Central Bank of Ireland, the Investor Compensation Company DAC (otherwise known as the Investor Compensation Company Limited) and the National Treasury Management Agency;
(t) any other service provided, or function performed, by a public body (within the meaning of the Data Sharing and Governance Act 2019 (No. 5 of 2019)), where the provision of the service or performance of the function is necessary to support or manage –
(i) other essential services, or
(ii) the response of the State to the spread of Covid-19;
(u) Driver Testing Services provided by the Road Safety Authority for the purposes of section 33 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 (No. 24 of 1961) for people involved in the provision of essential services or essential retail outlets;
(v) Driving instruction provided by instructors on the Register of Approved Diving instructors, established under Part 3 of the Road Traffic (Driving Instructor Licensing) (No.2) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 203 of 2009), where the person receiving instruction has a booking reserved to undergo a test for the purposes of section 33 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 (No. 24 of 1961).
(w) NCT for those with existing appointments
(x) specific statutory planning system activities, to the extent that they cannot be carried out remotely
Human health and social work activities
15. The following services relating to human health and social work activities:
(a) hospital services;
(b) therapy services provided by a member of a designated profession within the meaning of section 3 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (No. 27 of 2005);
(c) services relating to public health, including services relating to –
(i) the identification, tracing and contacting of persons who have been in contact with persons who have been diagnosed, or are suspected of having been infected, with Covid-19, and
(ii) the testing of persons for Covid-19;
(d) laboratory services;
(e) drug treatment and addiction services;
(f) hospice services;
(g) pharmacy services;
(h) primary care and general and specialist medical practice activities;
(i) dental services;
(j) blood donation and related services;
(k) tissue or organ donation and related services;
(l) residential care services (including nursing care, mental health and substance abuse services, services for elderly persons and persons with disabilities) and children’s residential services;
(m) homecare, home help and other health services in the community;
(n) social work and social care services, (including disability services, mental health services, child protection and welfare services, domestic, sexual and gender-based violence services) and homeless services including homeless outreach services;
(o) paramedical, ambulance and pre-hospital care services;
(p) services provided by minor injury units;
(q) maternity services;
(r) health and social work services;
(s) food safety and environmental services;
(t) regulated childcare services and the care of children for persons providing essential services.
16. The following services relating to education activities:
(a) primary and post primary school;
(b) higher and further education, insofar as onsite presence is required and such education activities cannot be held remotely.
Community and voluntary services
(a) services not otherwise specified in this Schedule, provided by community and voluntary workers and the Civil Defence, as part of a publicly commissioned service, deployed to assist in the delivery of essential services;
(b) volunteer services operating under the local authority emergency management framework in accordance with public health guidance.
Diplomatic missions and consular affairs
18. The provision of services essential to the functioning of diplomatic missions and consular posts in the State.
All across Europe and much of the rest of the world, Covid-19 infections are on the rise.
I want to speak to you tonight about our country’s ongoing battle against the virus, about where we are in that battle and about what is going to happen next.
2020 has been a hard year, and we’re not through it yet.
Families, individuals and front line workers have sacrificed so much.
So many of the things that cheer us, and that we took for granted, have been taken from us.
The reality of this terrible disease is that when we give it opportunities to spread, it spreads. And when it spreads, it consumes large parts of our daily lives and whole sections of the economy.
As I have said before, the Government cannot stop it on its own. There are no laws or powers that can change the nature of this virus.
Many people have done everything that has been asked of them. But some have not. As Taoiseach I am asking everyone again to take this threat seriously.
I want to be straight with people, lay out all the facts as I have them, and explain the rationale for the decisions that your Government is making.
The first thing that we need to talk about is our strategy. You will have heard many potential approaches mentioned and it’s important to be clear on what is, and what is not possible.
There are some who argue that the country should be taking a ‘Zero Covid’ approach.
That we should lock down the country and seal the borders until the virus has been eliminated and then maintain the infection rate at zero.
The people who take this position are well motivated and serious people.
However, given our geographic location and proximity to Britain and mainland Europe, and with two jurisdictions on our island, the advice of NPHET is, and our view as a Government is that this is simply not a realistic option.
There are others who argue for a herd immunity approach; that we should let the virus run its course and that the economy is too important for any more restrictions.
This implies that we should accept higher levels of illness and death, and it ignores the deadly long term effects of the virus on many people.
The Government will not be taking this approach.
It is my firm belief that the core responsibility of your Government and your Taoiseach is to protect lives and to protect public health, while also protecting livelihoods and supporting the wider economy and society.
That is what we have done and it is what we will continue to do.
We work to suppress the virus when it is growing, and we work to reopen as much of our society and economy as possible when it is safe to do so.
Until we have a safe vaccine, we must continue in that pattern.
This is the reality in the rest of the world and it is unfortunately the reality here.
So where are we now in that cycle?
In the effort to suppress the virus we have already introduced what is probably Europe’s strictest regime.
As a result of this, we can see some evidence that these restrictions have been effective in slowing the growth and spread of the virus.
However, as the daily figures show, these restrictions, on their own, have not been enough to significantly reduce the levels of infection.
So, while we have slowed the spread of the virus, this has not been enough and further action is now required.
NPHET has been clear on what it believes is needed. I would like to thank Dr Tony Holohan, Dr Ronan Glynn and their colleagues for that clarity.
When their recommendations come to Government, we are obliged to consider them and also weigh up the wider societal impacts of very severe restrictions. Restrictions have very real impacts, including on mental well being, capacity to treat non-Covid illnesses, unemployment and loss of income for families, and very significant social impacts, such as increased domestic violence and fewer child welfare referrals.
These and the many other consequences of increased restrictions are hugely important and require careful thought.
Having given it that careful thought, the Government has decided that the evidence of a potentially grave situation arising in the weeks ahead is now too strong. Therefore, for a period of six weeks from midnight on Wednesday night, the whole country will move to Level 5 of the Framework for Living with Covid-19.
Before I talk about what this will mean, I want to speak for a moment about our schools and childcare providers. It is the view of Government, supported by the advice of NPHET, that our schools and childcare services should remain open.
This is necessary because we cannot and will not allow our children and young people’s futures to be another victim of this disease.
They need their education.
The fact that we have been able to open our schools and keep them open is because of the extraordinary efforts of our administrators, principals, teachers, Special Needs Assistants, parents, childcare providers, cleaners, caretakers, and entire school communities.
They too are on the frontline in this crisis and they deserve the gratitude of the entire nation.
As a Government we have invested heavily to support this effort and we will continue to work with school leaders to keep schools open.
Similarly, I want the whole country to know that we will be supporting this effort to suppress the virus again with enhanced financial supports for individuals and businesses.
We will be improving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme to take account of the new restrictions.
We will be prioritising the roll-out of new supports in mental health services.
I understand that social isolation and anxiety is a very real issue for many people and especially those who live alone.
Therefore, we are including, as part of the ‘own household’ provisions, the concept of a “support bubble”.
This will allow persons living alone, parenting alone or similarly at risk of social isolation to pair with one other household as part of a “support bubble”.
A full list of Level 5 restrictions will be published on gov.ie, but they will include:
- There should be no social or family gatherings in homes or gardens, but visits on compassionate grounds and for caring purposes can continue
- We have decided that attendance at weddings will be maintained at 25 guests
- Restaurants, cafes and bars will be permitted to provide takeaway services only
- Only essential retail may remain open
- Everyone in the country is being asked to Stay at Home, with exercise permitted within a 5km radius of your home.
- Only essential workers whose physical presence in the workplace are permitted to travel to work. Those who can work from home must do so.
- Construction work is essential and will continue during this phase, as we work to tackle the country’s homelessness and housing crisis, while most manufacturing will also remain open.
I understand, and I feel very personally and profoundly the sense of disappointment, the feelings of loneliness, perhaps even the despair that this announcement will bring for many.
The days are getting shorter and colder.
But I ask you to remember this.
Even as the winter comes in, there is hope. And there is light.
If we pull hard together over the next six weeks, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way.
Every Christmas is important, but this year it is particularly so. Each of us have our own rituals for Christmas, and they will take on extra poignancy this year as we remember those who didn’t survive 2020.
Not only those who have been taken by the virus, but also all those others who passed away this year and didn’t get the wakes and funerals and goodbyes that we as a people are so good at, and which they deserved.
It won’t be the same Christmas that we have enjoyed in years past, but if we all pull together and follow the spirit of these new rules, it will be a very special time and will give us all some respite from the hardship of the last seven months.
If each of us does what is asked of us for a period of just six weeks, we will suppress this virus and we will emerge from these restrictions on the 1st December.