Ireland has moved to a second national lockdown under a so-called “soft” Level 5 restrictions strategy for six weeks from Thursday October 22nd until December 1st . It is far from soft, but what exactly does it mean for everyday life?
Can I travel outside my county?
Yes as long as it's within 5km of your home. Under Level 5 you will be asked to stay at home, with the exception that you can exercise within 5km of your home.
There will be a penalty for movement outside 5km of home, with exemptions to this for essential work and essential purposes.
What are deemed essential purposes for travel outside the 5km limit?
Shopping for essential items, travelling to and from work where work involves providing an essential service, attending medical appointments and collecting medicines and other health products, farming purposes and to take school-aged children to permitted training.
It also includes vital family reasons such as a wedding or funeral, visiting a grave and providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people and those who live alone as part of an extended household, known as a support bubble.
More details on sports below.
Can I have any visitors to my home?
No. There are to be no visitors to your home or garden.
As mentioned, there is the concept of an extended household, known as a support bubble, for defined categories of individuals to support those at risk of social isolation and/or mental ill-health. It will be possible for those in such circumstances to nominate one other household with whom they can mix.
Could I meet up with family or a friend away from my home, in a park?
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.
Large social or family gatherings shouldn’t take place in other settings, except for weddings or funerals.
So weddings aren’t cancelled?
Weddings can still go ahead, with up to 25 guests allowed to attend a wedding ceremony and reception.
Are organised indoor or outdoor gatherings allowed to take place such as conferences, events in theatres or other arts events?
No organised indoor or outdoor events can take place under Level 5. Museums, galleries and other cultural attractions all remain closed.
Parks and outdoor playgrounds can remain open with protective measures in place.
Will schools close?
The Government’s plan says recommendations for schools, crèches, higher and adult education under Level 5 will be based on the “situation and evidence at time”.
The Government has said that schools and crèches will remain open over the next six weeks “in line with current Nphet advice”.
Is all sport cancelled?
Under the Level 5 plan, individual training only can take place. Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools close.
No adult training or matches should take place, with the exception of professional, elite sports and inter-county Gaelic games, horse-racing and greyhound racing, which are being permitted to continue behind closed doors.
In addition, in recognition of the impact of restrictions on children and young people, non-contact training can continue for school-aged children, outdoors in pods of 15.
What happens to pubs and restaurants?
Bars, cafés, restaurants and wet pubs can only offer takeaway or delivery. Nightclubs, discos and casinos will remain closed. Wet pubs in Dublin also remain closed.
Are retail outlets, hairdressers/barbers allowed to stay open?
Essential retail is only allowed to stay open and face coverings must continue to be worn. Some of the essential retail outlets permitted to remain open includes businesses selling foods and beverages on a takeaway basis, newspaper sales, supermarkets and pharmacies and chemists.
Outlets selling products necessary for the essential upkeep and functioning of places of residence and businesses are also allowed to remain open, as well as businesses selling health, medical or orthopaedic goods.
Fuel service stations and heating fuel providers, businesses selling items for the health and welfare of animals, laundries and drycleaners, banks post offices and credit unions can also remain open.
Outlets selling safety supplies , hardware outlets, businesses providing repair and maintenance of mechanically propelled vehicles or bicycles can also remain open.
Optician and optometrists, hearing services, businesses selling office products and outlets selling electrical and communications technology are permitted to remain open on an emergency basis.
All other retail and personal services close.
Here is Conor Pope's list of 100 Irish retailers online which you can support for your Christmas shopping.
What about religious services and funerals?
Religious services will be held online while places of worship remain open for private prayer. Up to 25 mourners can attend a funeral.
Can hotels and similar accommodation stay open?
They are open only for those with “essential non-social and non-tourist purposes”.
Do over-70s and medically vulnerable people have to cocoon?
Those aged over 70 years and over and the medically vulnerable should exercise judgement regarding the extent to which they engage with others and in activities outside home.
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 exercising outdoors, it is important to maintain two metres distance from others and wash hands on returning home, the advice states. It is recommended to shop during designated hours only, while wearing a face covering, and to avoid public transport.
Can I visit a relative in a nursing home?
Visits to long-term residential care facilities continue to be suspended under Level 5 aside from “critical and compassionate circumstances”.
What about public transport?
Face coverings must continue to be worn on public transport. People should only use public transport if they are essential workers or for essential purposes only. People are advised to walk or cycle where possible.
Public transport capacity will be restricted to 25 per cent to allow essential workers to get to work. School transport will be unaffected.
What are these new penalties/fines for breaking the restrictions?
Under new legislation agreed by the Cabinet on Tuesday night, gardaí will be empowered to arrive at a property and direct that any gathering in breach of public health guidelines be stopped.
Those who are found to be organising parties or gatherings could face a fine of up to €1,000 in the first instance or imprisonment for one month, or both. Second offenders face a fine of up to €1,500 or three months imprisonment, or both. Third or subsequent offenders face a fine of up to €2,500 or six months imprisonment, or both.
People who breach other aspects of the six-week lockdown, such as the 5km travel restriction, face on the spot fines. The maximum fine will be €500 but it is likely that the starting fine could be much lower, potentially €60, although this detail has yet to be agreed and does not feature in the legislation. The legislation is not in force yet. Here's a separate Q&A on fines.
How does Ireland’s restrictions compare to the rest of Europe?
Ireland and Wales have become the first in Europe to declare new nationwide lockdowns to cope with a surge in coronavirus infections. Here is a comprehensive look at what the rest of Europe currently looks like in terms of restrictions.