Inter-county travel and household restrictions in place

A ban on inter-county travel came into effect at midnight last night under Level 5 restrictions in the Government’s Living with Covid-19 plan.

However, travel outside your county will be permitted for those returning to their place of residence.

Otherwise you must remain within your county apart from travel for work, education or other essential purposes.

HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid has asked people to review their New Year travel plans as the number of positive tests rises, with the number of close contacts per positive case now averaging five people.

He warned that testing and tracing volumes are at “alarming” levels with a 10% positivity rate in community testing.

New family gathering restrictions are also in place from today, with indoor visits reduced from two other households to just one other household up to and including 31 December.

From 1 January, no visitors are permitted in private homes/gardens (except for essential family reasons, such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, or as part of a support bubble).

Hotels are only allowed stay open for essential non-social and non-tourist purposes.

Weddings can have up to 25 guests up to and including 2 January. Only six guests are permitted from 3 January.

Funerals are only allowed have ten mourners. Religious services are online but places of worship may open for private prayer.

The latest restrictions will be in place until at least 12 January.

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Meanwhile, the coordinated roll-out of a vaccine to fight Covid-19 beings today across the EU.

Three countries – Germany, Hungary and Slovakia – began giving the vaccine just hours after receiving their first consignments of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine yesterday.

Preparations are under way to start vaccinating people here in Ireland on Wednesday following the arrival of 10,000 doses of the vaccine.

From next week, it is expected that health authorities will receive around 40,000 doses a week.

Professor Philip Nolan of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) noted that the arrival of the vaccine yesterday coincided with the recording of the highest number of infections.

The Department of Health earlier confirmed that six more people had died with Covid-19 and there had been 1,296 new cases reported.

Professor Nolan said the arrival of the vaccines was a ray of hope, but the latest Covid figures are a reminder of the hard work needed to suppress the virus until the vaccine afforded people protection.

The Department of Justice, in a statement, assured victims of domestic abuse that supports and protections will continue to be available for the duration of Level 5, including over the holiday period.

Minister Helen McEntee said: “As part of Phase 3 of Operation Faoiseamh, gardaí will continue to proactively reach out and make contact with previous victims to provide reassurance, support and to offer the assistance of local and specialised resources.

“Anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse or is in fear for their safety at any time should reach out for help. Don’t wait.”

Information on services and supports is available on the campaign website

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