Government to stick with plans to allow travel to other counties until January 6

Dr Tony Holohan has made his recommendation to Cabinet

Philip Ryan, Political editor

Inter-county travel will be permitted until January 6 despite the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) recommending it should be banned from three days after Christmas.

The Government is also expected to allow restaurants and pubs to remain open until December 30.

Social visits to family homes will be reduced to just one household on the same date under plans which will be discussed by Cabinet on Tuesday.

On Thursday, Nphet recommended shutting down the hospitality sector and banning more than one household visit from December 28.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan's team also said county-to-county travel should be prohibited on the same day over fears of the rising spread of the coronavirus.

However, a senior Government source yesterday said it is likely the Cabinet will stick with plans to allow people to travel around the country until January 6.

After negotiations with the hospitality industry it is expected restaurants and pubs that serve food will remain open until December 30.

Concerns over the impact of New Year's celebrations on spread of the virus means they will remain closed for at least the early party of January.


It is expected non-essential retail outlets, gyms and personal services such as hairdressers and barbers will remain open into the new year.

Hotels are also in line to remain open when the new restrictions on hospitality come into effect. Nphet did not set a date for when restaurants and pubs should reopen.

Several high-level Government sources said the decision to reopen the hospitality sector will depend on the rate of the virus in the coming weeks.

One senior Cabinet source said they expected the situation will be monitored every two weeks.

Another senior Government source said they did not see restrictions being imposed for as long as six weeks as has been decided in Northern Ireland.

Yesterday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Nphet is proposing "significant restrictions" on hospitality and the Government is "very minded" to accept the advice.