Ireland is the last European country to impose Covid restrictions

Ireland is the youngest European country to reintroduce Covid restrictions with the onset of winter amid a surge in cases.

Starting tomorrow, all hospitality businesses, including nightclubs and pubs, will have to close at midnight, the use of Covid passes will be expanded, and people will be advised to work from home whenever possible.

Household contacts of people who tested positive in a PCR test are forced to self-isolate for five days, even if they are double vaccinated, and are only allowed out if they have negative results in three different antigen tests.

Ireland follows Austria and the Netherlands in rolling out Covid restrictions as Europe once again becomes the epicenter of the pandemic.

Ireland will reintroduce Covid restrictions from Friday amid a spike in cases as the Taoiseach refused to move on if infections continue to rise

Covid deaths in Ireland are still well below the first and second wave highs, but have been ticking up since the end of summer

While Ireland’s current restrictions do not go as far as Austria – whose government has been accused of “vaccine apartheid” after locking the unvaccinated in their homes – Taoiseach Micheal Martin has refused to move on.

“It remains to be seen whether these measures will be enough to stem the tide of infections and hospitalizations,” he said in an evening address to the nation.

“We are not ruling out any further measures, we will keep an eye on them.”

Ireland is currently requiring the use of vaccination cards for indoor eateries such as restaurants and bars, but will now extend this to theaters and cinemas.

Just a month after reopening, new restrictions on nightclubs are coming.

Mr. Martin also announced that the booster program, which started November 4th, will be expanded to include people over 50.

So far Ireland has only offered boosters to long-term care facility residents aged 60 and over.

The take-up was low, with only 341,000 vaccinations given to a total population of 5 million.

The Health Service Executive blamed the “significant non-attendance” of booked appointments for the slow introduction.

People with previous illnesses and residents of all ages in care facilities are also included in the expanded introduction.

Europe’s Covid winter wave first struck in the east, where vaccination rates are largely lower, with Russia and Latvia being the first two nations to be banned.

As of Friday, hospitality businesses in Ireland will have to close at midnight while the use of Covid Passes will be expanded to cinemas and theaters

Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins announced a month-long shutdown of his country a month ago when the double hit rate was only 57 percent.

The Netherlands then became the first country in Western Europe to follow suit, with non-essential retail and personal services such as hairdressers closing at 6 p.m.

Important shops, clubs, bars and restaurants must close at 8:00 p.m. Home gatherings are limited to a maximum of four people, while all sports games must be held behind closed doors.

Austria then followed suit with highly controversial measures that only affect the unvaccinated and no medical exemptions.

This means that around two million people have been banned from leaving their homes except for essential reasons such as buying food or medication.

They had already been banned from going to restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas.

Around 65 percent of the Austrian population are double vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe.

Germany, too, which at 67 percent has a lower vaccination rate than the European average, is now considering similar measures.

Michael Martin, the Irish Taoiseach (file image) has refused to rule out further restrictions, even over Christmas if cases continue to rise

The new government of the Social Democrats (SDP) has warned that unvaccinated people cannot go to work and travel by public transport.

The new government will also recommend that everyone should work from home unless they have a “compelling business reason”.

“This is actually a lockdown for unvaccinated people,” said the deputy SPD parliamentary group leader Dirk Wiese. Around 14 million Germans eligible for vaccination did not accept the offer.

In Bavaria and in the eastern German states of Thuringia and Saxony, the situation has reached a critical point, as the capacities of hospitals across the country will be fully utilized in the first two weeks of December.

In Saxony, those who oppose the vaccine could be limited to meeting someone outside their household and excluded from non-essential travel until Friday.

Saxony and Bavaria are among a number of federal states that already require proof of vaccination for access to restaurants, bars and clubs.

The Bavarian government calls on Berlin to introduce the same rules nationwide.

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