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Pubs and restaurants close at 8pm in Ireland amid concerns over Omicron

Ireland is bracing for a ‘huge increase in infections’ thanks to the Omicron variant (Image: Reuters)

The Irish Cabinet has agreed to introduce an 8pm closing time for receptions because of growing concerns about the new variant of Omicron Covid.

Ministers met this evening to discuss recommendations from the National Public Health Emergencies Group (Nphet).

The agency has proposed a 5 p.m. curfew on entertainment and capacity limits at large outdoor events to 50%, or 5,000 people.

Taoiseach Michael Martin said Omicron was in the country and told people to expect a ‘huge increase in infections’.

He added: ‘If left unchecked, this new strain of bacteria will pose a huge threat to hospitals and critical care services, but also a threat to society as a whole and the economy as a whole. economy.

‘It’s spreading so strongly across all age groups that we’re likely to see infections at a rate far beyond anything we’ve seen so far.’

Nphet’s recommendations caused considerable opposition among some Government supporters.

In a worst-case scenario, Ireland could see 20,000 cases a day with 2,000 people hospitalized by early January (Image: Reuters)

But the chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, told journalists that the Cabinet’s decision to close reception from 8pm was ‘a welcome acceptance of our intention to advise’.

Dr Holohan said Nphet’s recommendation for a 5pm curfew was part of a ‘series of recommendations’ aimed at reducing the incidence of the disease.

‘It’s important to minimize social contact as much as possible. Contact will become a better thing at evening time,’ he added.

But he welcomed the move, saying it would help slow the spread of the highly contagious strain of Omicron.

Taoiseach Michael Martin said Omicron would ‘represent a huge threat to hospitals’ if left unchecked (Image: Reuters)

Ireland could see 20,000 cases a day with 2,000 hospitalized in early January under Nphet’s most pessimistic model.

Dr Holohan told a press conference that this new variant accounts for 35% of Covid-19 infections in the country.

Optimistic models predict 8,000 cases a day and between 650 and 1,000 hospitalizations, but there are concerns that increased socialization around Christmas will exacerbate infections.

Nphet members say that even if the variant turns out to be less severe than the Delta strain, its remarkable growth rate means hospitals are still under threat.

Dr Cillian De Gascun said: ‘It would be great news if it became less severe, but its growth advantage remains a serious concern.

“It would have to be farther, less severe than Delta for it to not overwhelm our medical service.”

Contact our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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https://metro.co.uk/2021/12/17/pubs-and-restaurants-to-close-at-8pm-in-ireland-amid-omicron-fears-15789664/?ITO=metro-trending Pubs and restaurants close at 8pm in Ireland amid concerns over Omicron

Emma Bowman

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