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Revealed: Strict limits on visitors to family homes will stretch to next year, regardless of Covid-19 infection rate

Five-level plan for living with the virus will remain in place until April

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Even in the best-case scenario, no more than 10 people from three households will be allowed to visit a family home. Stock picture

Even in the best-case scenario, no more than 10 people from three households will be allowed to visit a family home. Stock picture

Even in the best-case scenario, no more than 10 people from three households will be allowed to visit a family home. Stock picture

Strict rules on gatherings in family homes will remain in place for the next seven months regardless of how low the rate Covid-19 infection is reduced.

The Government is set to announce its five-level plan for living with the virus next week. It is expected to remain in place until the end of April when it will be reviewed.

The Irish Independent can reveal that even in the best-case scenario, no more than 10 people from three households will be allowed to visit a family home.

The restrictions will have a significant impact on family gatherings in the coming months, including birthdays, christenings, communions and at Christmas.

However, new details of the draft government Covid-19 resilience and recovery plan reveal that if the virus threat is at its lowest level, then gatherings of up to 100 people will be allowed in controlled indoor setting such as pubs, restaurants and hotels.

The Government is eager to push people towards controlled settings rather than gatherings in family homes. All pubs will be open at the lowest level of restrictions.

A senior government source said: "The problem we are having is people are having house parties and garden parties and they are spreading the virus to each other unbeknownst to themselves. It would be safer for them to meet friends in a restaurant where it is controlled."

Nationally, the country is currently at level two of the new plan, which means the current restrictions on family homes, which allow six people from three households, will remain in place.

The rules become more strict when moving into level three, where just six from one household are allowed to visit another home. Controlled indoor events will be banned.

In level four, all household visits will be prohibited and indoor gatherings banned.

The plan will be published on Tuesday along with an announcement the Government is dropping its Green List of countries deemed safe for air travel in favour of signing up to the EU Commission's traffic light system for European flights.

The new system, based on a colour-coded map produced by the European Centre for Disease Control, will allow for more flights in and out of Ireland.

Yesterday, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said the rising number of cases in Dublin is a "cause of serious concern".

"I think we need to all really examine how we can slow down the spread of the virus." he said.

"We know how we did it before, let's hope we don't have to go anywhere as drastic as that. But I think each of us, by making a conscious effort to keep our distance [and] somewhat reduce our social contacts, could make a real difference in the coming days because we do not want to get back into that dangerous spiral which we saw."

Mr Harris said he will always be guided by public health advice when asked if pubs should be allowed to reopen on September 21 given the rise in Covid-19 cases.

Nphet has advised the Government to delay the reopening of pubs in Dublin due to the rise in new Covid cases. Nphet also wanted new restrictions on house visits introduced this weekend. However, the Government decided to wait until Tuesday to make a decision on restrictions for Dublin.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said October's Budget will need to provide extra supports to sectors forced to remain closed for public health reasons so that they can survive and reopen later,

He cited the live music industry, the events sector, travel, and aviation as well as the pub trade as needing supports beyond the general stimulus being provided by Government.

"We don't want DJs to retrain as lawyers or riggers to become healthcare workers, we don't want people to move out of these sectors," he said.

The comments were made at a seminar run as part of the Dublin Economic Workshop.

It suggests the minister for business is seeking a specific package with the aim of keeping some parts of the economy on ice longer than others, but with a view to being able to revive activities once the public health conditions allow.

Mr Varadkar said he expects Covid-19 to be "more akin a war or invasion" than an economic crash - with parts of the country potentially occupied, liberated and re-occupied in different waves of infection.

Irish Independent


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