Ireland mulls staggered release of Covid lockdown before Christmas
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin has signaled that the country is looking at taking a staged approach to easing its severe coronavirus restrictions from the start of December, so families can gather together at Christmas.
Martin told Irish national broadcaster RTE that “If we can get the numbers way down, we’ll obviously have to look at that specific Christmas period,” raising hopes of a lockdown reprieve for the festive period.
While people in Ireland might be able to meet in person for Christmas, the government did not lay out guidance for the return of Irish citizens who live abroad, simply urging them to not book flights home yet.
Martin said that travel advice would be issued in due course, while his deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar, reaffirmed that it was “too soon” to plan for the Christmas period.
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The Republic of Ireland is currently under the highest level of restrictions possible, having entered a proposed six-week period of lockdown last month. People are asked to stay at home and not to hold social or family gatherings either in their homes or gardens, with exemptions only on compassionate grounds or providing care.
Ireland is currently battling its second wave of coronavirus, with cases spiking in the middle of October. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 66,247 confirmed cases and 1,965 deaths from the virus.
The news comes as the government revealed that tightened restrictions have had little impact on Irish workers’ wages compared to the period just prior. Despite the imposed lockdown, the country’s Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme topped up 345,400 people’s pay last month, compared with 345,500 in September.
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