New restrictions may be on the way for Christmas

The National public Health Emergency Team has recommended pubs and restaurants close at 5pm as soon as possible, as the Omicron variant spreads here.


They’ve also called for indoor and outdoor events to be capped at a maximum of 50 per cent capacity.


But they haven’t recommended the early closure of schools for Christmas, or further limits on household visits.


There are expected to be some changes around close contacts – with those who have yet to receive their booster to be asked to restrict their movements.


It is understood the severity of the proposed restrictions came as a surprise to many in Government.


The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland CEO Padraig Cribben has already described the restrictions as devastating for Irish hospitality.


The latest restrictions are being suggested despite hospitalisation and ICU figures have been steadily falling in recent days.


Yesterday morning, there were 443 COVID patients in Irish hospitals – down 16.5% on the same day last week and the lowest number reported since mid-October.


There were 108 in ICU, which was seven fewer than last week.


Cabinet ministers will consider the recommendations today.