Calling it a “significant threat”, Prime Minister of Ireland, Micheál Martin addressed the nation through a televised speech on Friday. Drawing attention to the alarming rise in infections, the Taoiseach said the country was likely to see “infections at a rate that is far in excess of anything we have seen to date.”
He said: “The Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus is exploding through Europe.
“It is here, it is in our country and we are going to see a massive rise in infections.
“It spreads so aggressively throughout all age groups that we are likely to see infections at a rate that is far in excess of anything we have seen to date – it is that serious.”
The variant has been responsible for more than a third of new cases in Ireland in recent days, Mr Martin added.
Under the new restrictions, hospitality venues will have to shut at 8pm and there should be no indoor events after 8pm.
The new guidelines will come into effect from Sunday, December 19, and will last until January 30.
The Taoiseach added: “It is not the news I wanted to bring you and it is not the news you want to hear.
“We will be in a much better place in 2022.
Wedding receptions can take place after 8pm but with a capacity limit of 100 guests.
Restricted movement advice for all close contacts will be enhanced.
People who have received a booster jab at least one week ago will have to restrict movement for five days and take three antigen tests, while those who have not received a booster jab must restrict their movement for 10 days.
All people arriving in the country from overseas will be required to have an antigen or PCR test in line with their vaccination or recovery status.