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Safe to assume new Covid-19 mutation ‘is already here’: Ireland’s PM announces shutdown of pubs and restaurants amid new fears

Safe to assume new Covid-19 mutation ‘is already here’: Ireland’s PM announces shutdown of pubs and restaurants amid new fears
Ireland will bring in new measures on December 24 amid a new strain of coronavirus, which is likely already circulating among the population, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Tuesday.

From 3pm on Christmas Eve all restaurants, gastro pubs and hairdressers will be forced to close, while gyms and non-essential shops are allowed to remain open, although January sales are not permitted.

The measures will take effect less than a month after Ireland emerged from its previous lockdown and will remain in place until January 12.

A travel ban with the UK has been extended until December 31, after a new more virulent strain of coronavirus was discovered there earlier this month.

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On December 26, domestic travel in Ireland will also be banned, and people will only be able to mix with one other household indoors from December 27.

Ireland, which has one of Europe’s lowest Covid-19 incidence rates, is currently seeing cases grow at a rate of around 10 percent a day, which Martin said was “a source of serious concern, and it is not sustainable.”

While we do not yet have firm evidence that the new, more virulent, strain of the Covid virus is in our country, the rate of growth over the last week tells me that the safest and most responsible thing to do is to proceed on the assumption that it is already here.

The PM added that there is “light at the end of this tunnel” as he revealed that on Monday Ireland received 10,000 vaccines against coronavirus that are set to start being rolled out to the most vulnerable people next week.

It comes as over 50 countries have imposed travel bans on the UK over the new apparently more contagious Covid-19 variant, although the World Health Organization has said the strain does not appear to be more aggressive or deadly than other forms of the virus.

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