Martin said the rise in infections in the country is “a cause for great concern” as he unveiled a series of new measures aimed at “reducing socialization across the board”.
They include a return to guiding people to work from home and an extension of where a vaccination pass is required – people now have to show them in theaters and cinemas.
Ireland has one of Europe’s highest vaccination rates: 89.1% of people over the age of 12 have been immunized, but the booster program is only available to people over 60, health professionals and at-risk groups. The government is planning to offer third doses to people over 50 and those with underlying health conditions, Martin said.
Ireland registered the highest number of cases since January, when 5,483 new infections were reported last Friday. The number of deaths remains much lower than during the peak in January, but is slowly rising.
According to Martin, the county also recorded the second highest number of hospital admissions in all of 2021 this week. One of Dublin’s main hospitals, the Mater Hospital, was moved to intensive care capacity on Monday and is now breathing patients outside of intensive care, it said. the state broadcaster RTÉ.
But the new rules have met disappointment in the hospitality industry, especially among nightclub owners, who were only allowed to reopen last month after being closed since March 2020.
The Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said in a statement that the move was “a very disappointing measure for the many nightclubs and nightclubs, many of whom will have to close just three weeks after reopening”.
CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), Adrian Cummins, said that given the country’s high vaccination rates, the “reintroduction of restrictions on hospitality shows that living with COVID is not viable for our country.”
The measures agreed by the cabinet earlier on Tuesday are “an appropriate response to the situation we find ourselves in”, Martin said. “And I know no one wants to go back to a world of widespread restrictions,” he added.
Ireland now joins an increasing number of EU countries to reintroduce restrictions before winter. Covid-19 infections are increasing across the bloc, especially in central and eastern parts of the region.