Cabinet meet to discuss additional Covid restrictions

Cabinet meet to discuss additional Covid restrictions

James Ward and Michelle Devane, PA

Cabinet will meet today to consider a range of new Covid-19 restrictions to curb the pandemic.

A sub-committee which met yesterday put forward a number of new proposals, including closing schools, construction sites and creches.

A new requirement for travellers arriving in the country to produce a 'not detected' PCR test is also to be considered.


Travellers arriving in Ireland will have to produce the test taken within 72 hours prior to their journey.

It is understood the measure will apply to people arriving from Britain and South Africa from Saturday before being extended to other countries.


It comes after reports the more virulent UK variant of Covid-19 was found in approximately 25 per cent of cases in Ireland, up from the 10 per cent previously reported.

A separate variant, also believed to be more virulent, has also been discovered in South Africa.

Another measure to be considered is the closure of construction sites, apart from essential projects such as social housing or refurbishments.

Creches will also close but will still be available for children of essential workers.


Schools look set to close until the end of January at the earliest, as indicated by the Taoiseach yesterday.

It comes against the backdrop of rising Covid-19cases and admissions to hospitals and intensive care units.

Tuesday brought 17 further deaths linked to coronavirus and an additional 5,325 confirmed cases, according to the Department of Health.

The Taoiseach has said he agrees with the Chief Medical Officer that there is “an issue” with having more than one million people being “on the go” if schools reopen as planned.

Micheál Martin said “one has to really measure the advisability of doing that” given the “rapidity” of the spread of coronavirus both at home and in other jurisdictions.

He confirmed the Government is considering closing schools for the rest of the month.

On Tuesday, a post went out on the Fianna Fáil social media channels appearing to confirm school closures, before it was quickly deleted.

It read: “An Taoiseach @MichealMartinTD has confirmed that schools will remain closed.

“To flatten the curve once again we all need to stay home unless for essential services.”

The Taoiseach said the Cabinet Covid sub-committee would examine the issue of schools “in greater detail” before the full Cabinet formally decide today what measures will be adopted.

The leaders of the coalition parties, Mr Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan, along with a number of other ministers and public health officers were expected to participate in the discussion.


The Government last week made the decision to postpone the reopening of schools following the Christmas break until January 11th in the midst of the latest wave of the virus.

Mr Martin told RTÉ’s News at One the rapid growth of community transmission rates was “very, very serious” and that it had “exceeded any expectation”.

“We have to suppress the virus and that will mean a really significant reduction in the mobility of people in this country back to levels that we last saw in March,” he said.

“We have to say to people: you’ve got to stay at home over the next number of weeks bar essential purposes.”

The Taoiseach reiterated that schools remained “safe” and that the latest decision-making would not be in response to how the sector was performing, rather it was about “an overall societal response to a very rapid spread” of the virus in the community.

“We have to think beyond next week and the week after, we have to think to the end of the term, we have to think of the Leaving Certificate, of the examinations,” he said.

He added that special education measures for families that have children with special needs would be among the issues being deliberated.

Asked what the benchmark for reopening schools would be, Mr Martin replied that the Government wants to see the trajectory of the disease “going in the opposite direction to the one that it is going in now”.

“We need to turn this around, and we will assess this again on January 30th,” he said.

Mr Martin also said the potential closure of early childcare education and the construction sector would also be discussed.

The Taoiseach’s comments came as the Ombudsman for Children urged the Government to avoid a blanket closure of schools due to the disproportionately negative effect it would have on children with disabilities and children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Speaking in advance of the Cabinet sub-committee meeting, Dr Niall Muldoon said: “The simple blanket closure of all schools, as happened in March last year, is not a viable option because of the massive impact it will have on our children and their families.

“Without a doubt, children with disabilities and children from disadvantaged backgrounds will once more be disproportionately affected by Covid-19 school closures, therefore any long-term measures to reduce transmission in society must consider the substantial negative impact on these groups.”