The Taoiseach has said that nightclubs are to close and bars and restaurants will revert back to the restrictions in place up until 22 October.

In a televised address, Micheál Martin said that the Government received "stark advice" from the National Public Health Emergency Team which required the reintroduction of a number of restrictions, in order to curb the spread of Covid-19.

"The risks associated with proceeding into the Christmas period without some restrictions to reduce the volume of personal contacts is just too high," the Taoiseach said in his speech.

He said that strict social distancing will be needed in all bars and restaurants, including hotels.

In relation to the measures that were in place prior to 22 October, there will only be table service at bars and restaurants and there must be one metre between tables.

There must be a maximum of six adults per table and there can be no multiple table bookings.

Under the measures, masks must be worn when not at the table and the closing time for the premises remains at midnight. Indoor events, including gigs, concerts and sporting events, can only reach 50% capacity.

The restrictions will be in place from 7 December until 9 January.

The Taoiseach said he realises that many people in the hospitality and entertainment industries will be bitterly disappointed by the restrictions, and insisted that the Government will support the impacted businesses.

He said: "I want to reassure them that just as we have done since the beginning of the pandemic, the Government will stand by them and ensure that they have the financial supports necessary to weather this latest storm and to stay intact until we are out of it.

"We have demonstrated, through interventions and supports unprecedented in their scale and scope, that we will do whatever we need to do to safely steer our society and economy through this."

This evening, the Minister for Social Protection announced that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment is to be reinstated for all those who lose jobs as a results of restrictions announced.

Earlier, the CEO of the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) said today is a "pretty dark day" for the hospitality sector.

Representatives from a number of hospitality bodies met the Taoiseach and Minister for Public Expenditure this morning.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, VFI chief Padraig Cribben urged the Taoiseach on the need for clarity on supports for the sector.

He described December as a "very important" time for the sector which is typically "the equivalent of about three months of normal trading".

"The trade which would normally be buoyant at this time of the year in the run up to Christmas, is really dead," he said.

"We're seeing all of the Christmas parties, functions being cancelled and the announcement that there's a possibility of further restrictions is certainly leading to a high level of despair in the industry."

The National Campaign for Arts called for restrictions not to be imposed on indoor cultural events, saying it will "devastate a sector already on its knees'."

The CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland said the meeting with Micheál Martin was "positive and constructive".

However, Adrian Cummins added that no decisions were announced at the meeting.

"The hospitality sector's concerns with regards to EWSS wage supplement scheme and a comprehensive support package, including a commercial rates waiver plus Covid Recovery Support Scheme for all hospitality businesses was discussed at length," Mr Cummins said.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne, Mr Cummins said they set out their concerns around the precarious position that hospitality is in at the moment.

"From a financial perspective, we believe that the Government will support us," he added.

"We need to look at what is the level of support now that the Government will give to our industry.

"That's where we need to work with Government around this."

The Government had previously confirmed that hospitality businesses will be supported over the next number weeks, due to recognition that business has substantially declined.

Hotel occupancy is projected to fall to 13% in early 2022, Chief Executive of the Irish Hotels Federation, Tim Fenn has said.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Mr Fenn said the early months of next year will be "a very, very difficult time".

"The key issue around all of this is about our industry, surviving and restoring the 270,000 livelihoods that it supported before Covid as quickly as possible."

In a statement, the Vintners' Federation of Ireland said it expects an announcement on the issue of supports for staff shortly.

Also describing talks as "constructive", the VFI said the Government was committed to avoiding uncertainty.

"The Taoiseach said he understood the public health messaging that people should avoid socialising was having a hugely detrimental impact on the trade in what should be the busiest period of the year for pubs," the statement read.


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