The Government has decided today that, as of midnight on Wednesday 21st October, all of Ireland will be placed on Level 5 of the Plan for Living with COVID with a small number of exceptions as set out below. This action is based on current public health advice, the deteriorating situation with the disease across the country and the Government’s objectives to support families by keeping schools and childcare facilities open, maintaining non Covid health services and protecting the vulnerable.
Level 5 restrictions will remain in place for a period of 6 weeks. Given the difficulties that these restrictions place on individuals and families across the State, the risk of job losses and of poverty and homelessness, the Government has agreed that the moratorium on evictions be reinstated and that Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme be amended to reflect these challenges.
Placing the country at Level 5 Restrictions will have the following implications:
People are asked to stay at home. People should work from home unless providing an essential service for which their physical presence is required.
People will be permitted to exercise within a radius of 5 km of their home.
There will be a penalty for movement outside 5km of home, with exemptions to this for essential work and essential purposes.
In line with current NPHET advice in respect of Level 5, schools, early learning and childcare services will continue to remain open and are deemed essential.
In addition, in recognition of the impact on children and young people of restrictions, non-contact training can continue for school aged children, outdoors in pods of 15. All other training activities should be individual only, with some exemptions, see below.
There should be no visits to other people’s homes or gardens.
However, there will be the concept of an extended household (or support bubble) for defined categories of individuals to support those at risk of social isolation and/or mental ill-health.
No social/family gatherings should take place, with the exemptions to this for weddings and funerals.
It is possible to meet with one other household in an outdoor setting which is not a home or garden, such as a park, including for exercise.
There should be no organised indoor or outdoor events.
Essential retail and essential services will remain open.
Public transport will operate at 25% capacity for the purposes of allowing those providing essential services to get to work [School transport unaffected].
In line with current NPHET advice in respect of Level 5, professional, elite sports and inter-county Gaelic games, horse-racing and greyhound racing can continue behind closed doors.
Bars, cafes, restaurants and wet pubs may provide take-away and delivery services only. Wet pubs in Dublin remain closed.
Hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs may remain open, but only to support provision of essential services.
Those aged over 70 and the medically vulnerable are advised to continue to exercise personal judgement. It is recommended that they stay at home as much as possible, limit engagement to a very small network for short periods of time, while remaining physically distanced. When taking exercise outdoors, it is important to maintain 2 metres distance from others and wash hands on returning home. It is recommended to shop during designated hours only, while wearing a face covering, and to avoid public transport.
Religious services will be available online.
Museums, galleries and other cultural attractions will remain closed.
Libraries will be available for online services only.
Outdoor playgrounds, play areas and parks will remain open with protective measures.
Visits to Long Term Residential Care facilities are suspended with the exception of visits required for critical and compassionate circumstances.
What are the Essential Retail Outlets
Retailers with mixed retail offering which have discrete spaces for essential and non-essential retail should make arrangements for the separation of relevant areas.
1. Outlets selling food or beverages on a takeaway basis, or newspapers, whether on a retail or wholesale basis and whether in a non-specialised or specialised outlet.
2. Markets that, wholly or principally, offer food for sale.
3. Outlets selling products necessary for the essential upkeep and functioning of places of residence and businesses, whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
4. Pharmacies, chemists and retailers or wholesalers providing pharmaceuticals or pharmaceutical or dispensing services, whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
5. Outlets selling health, medical or orthopaedic goods in a specialised outlet, whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
6. Fuel service stations and heating fuel providers.
7. Outlets selling essential items for the health and welfare of animals (including animal feed and veterinary medicinal products, pet food, animal bedding and animal supplies), whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
8. Laundries and drycleaners.
9. Banks, post offices and credit unions.
10. Outlets selling safety supplies (including work-wear apparel, footwear and personal protective equipment), whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
11. Hardware outlets, builders’ merchants and outlets that provide, whether on a retail or wholesale basis -
(a) hardware products necessary for home and business maintenance or construction and development,
(b) sanitation and farm equipment, or
(c) supplies and tools essential for farming or agriculture purposes.
12 Outlets providing for the repair and maintenance of mechanically propelled vehicles or bicycles and any related facilities (including tyre sales and repairs).
13. The following outlets, insofar as they offer services on an emergency basis only:
(a) Optician and optometrist outlets.
(b) Outlets providing hearing test services or selling hearing aids and appliances.
(c) Outlets selling office products and services for businesses or for relevant persons working from their respective places of residence, whether on a retail or wholesale basis.
(d) Outlets providing electrical, information and communications technology and telephone sales, repair and maintenance services for places of residence and businesses.
14. Any other retail outlet that operates an online or other remote system of ordering goods for purposes of collection at the retail outlet.
15. Outlets selling food or beverages whether on a retail or wholesale basis and whether in a non-specialised or specialised outlet -
(a) insofar as they sell food or beverages on a takeaway basis or for consumption off the premises,
(b) insofar as they are staff canteens operating for the exclusive use of persons working in, or at, a particular premises, or
(c) hotels or similar accommodation services insofar as they sell food or beverages for consumption on the premises by residents of the service.
Physical attendance at workplaces is only permitted for those providing the following services where such services can only be provided in person and cannot be delivered remotely. It does not include administrative and other support for such businesses and services unless specified in section 13 and the physical presence of a worker is required.
Amendments to PUP and EWSS
The move to Level 5 will have a significant impact on businesses – many people will temporarily lose their jobs on Thursday.
As a result of the fact that businesses have to close we are making changes to the PUP and the EWSS
The new payment structure for the PUP is as follows, with the rate of €350 restored to those who were earning in excess of €400 per week.