From the 1 of December last, Ireland commenced a phased move to Level 3 nationally, with a number of temporary measures in place for the Christmas period. A number of those measures take effect from tomorrow, 18 December 2020.
The exceptions for the Christmas period are designed to support people to have a meaningful Christmas.
The Taoiseach said:
"It will be a different Christmas, it has to be, but hopefully these temporary exceptions to Level 3 restrictions reflect Government’s appreciation of the deep innate desire we have to be with close ones at this time of year – this year of all years."
The Taoiseach said, that the Government is very mindful of the change in the trajectory over the past number of days. So, while there is an opportunity to take advantage of a change in restrictions, every individual and every family has to plan, remembering the significant and increasingly concerning indications that the virus is on the increase again. He said:
“I am asking everyone, to think, and think again, about how they are planning to spend the Christmas period, to prioritise those closest to you and otherwise, to keep you contacts and socialisation as low as possible”.
Although more interactions are permitted, the advice remains the same - to keep contacts as low as possible, and to prioritise a small number of key activities. The main objective is to stay safe and keep the Covid numbers down so that we can maintain the lowest possible level of restrictions into the New Year.
The Taoiseach outlined his understanding that NPHET will be recommending the reintroduction of restrictions before the New Year in response to the changes we are seeing in transmission of the disease. These recommendations will have to be considered by Government at its scheduled Cabinet meeting next week.
However, he emphasised:
“There will be no change in our planned approach between now and Christmas.”
The Taoiseach thanked all of the frontline workers across every sector who are working to keep us safe, but especially those working in health care settings. He said:
“How we all behave now will have an impact on those who are working in our health services over the Christmas period. In our behaviour, we will show our solidarity and support for them, as they have supported us, unstintingly throughout 2020”.
Guidance and advice on how to make your Christmas safe is available on gov.ie/safechristmas, and is supported by an extensive communications campaign. People are advised to plan their activities in advance, to limit their contacts throughout this period, to keep celebrations small, that outdoors is safer than indoors and to ensure good ventilation if indoors with other people.