The Chief Medical Officer says the current trajectory of Covid19 here is of “grave concern”, as people are being urged to rethink their Christmas plans to protect elderly and vulnerable loved ones.
The country will move to Level 5 restrictions tomorrow in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease.
Hotels, gastropubs, hairdressers and beauticians will have to close, while restrictions on household visits and inter-county travel will be phased in from St. Stephen’s Day.
970 new cases were recorded yesterday, the highest in almost two months.
26 of these were in Kilkenny with ten more in Carlow.
While both counties are still showing higher than the nation’s 14-day incidence rate of 138.2, their places have fallen a little.
Kilkenny is now fourth highest in the country with a rate of 236.8 while Carlow’s is sixth at 200.2.
The numbers of people being treated for Covid19 at St Luke’s Hospital remain static with 21 there last night. It follows one new diagnosis while there’s one more person there suspected of having the virus.
The government says a ‘very limited’ repatriation service will continue over the next week for Irish residents stranded in Britain.
It follows the decision to extend the current travel ban until December 31st after a new strain of Covid19 was discovered in south-east England.
Last night more than 350 Irish residents were able to return from Britain on flights and ferries.
Two specially chartered flights were organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
170 were on board an Aer Lingus flight and 65 on Ryanair.
118 people were also accommodated on ferries.
In a statement, the Department said a very limited service will also continue during the current travel restrictions to help other Irish residents who need to get back to the country.
A spokesperson said the service is not available for citizens normally resident, studying or working in Britain.
They said it will be available for essential travel only and must be arranged through the Department.
Meanwhile, Professor of Molecular Virology at Queens University Belfast, Ultan Power, says people travelling from abroad should not be coming home for the festive season.
Nursing home visits will be restricted to one visit by one person every two weeks from tomorrow.
The move will form part of the country’s transition to Level 5 Covid19 restrictions.
Up to now, one visit by one person every week is allowed.
CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland, Tadgh Daly, says it’ll be tough on families and residents.
Meanwhile, an outbreak at a local nursing home was confirmed yesterday – read about that here
Retail representatives will meet with government this morning to discuss deferring January sales.
Yesterday government announced non-essential retail would remain open as part of a move to Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.
However, the Taoiseach said retailers would be asked to push back their January sales events.
Managing Director of Retail Excellence, Duncan Graham, hopes to get clarity on the request later.
France will re-open the border with Britain after the UK government agreed to provide tests for truck drivers stuck in Dover.
If the test is negative, they will be allowed to enter mainland Europe.
However, there are delays in the system with thousands of lorries stranded in south-east England.
It is unclear what happens if a haulier tests positive.
British Transport Minister Grant Shapps says people shouldn’t travel unless they have a negative Covid19 test.
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has apologised after she breached Covid rules by taking off her face mask at a funeral wake.
A picture in the Scottish Sun showed her chatting to people in a bar, standing at a distance but without a mask.
She says it was a “stupid mistake.”
Under Scottish government Covid-19 rules, customers in hospitality venues must wear a face covering except when seated.
In the US
Donald Trump has criticised a 900-billion dollar pandemic relief package for businesses and individuals which has been passed by the US Congress.
The US President had been expected to sign the legislation into law, but in a video message on Twitter, he called the package as “a disgrace”.
Mr Trump hit out at plans to spend money to other countries, which he said should be used to increase stimulus payments to struggling Americans.