It is about three months since many nursing home residents received their third booster doses. Photograph: iStock

State’s vaccine advisers have been asked for view on second booster for older people

Some Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael backbenchers, arguing the worst of the Omicron variant surge has passed, are calling for immediate steps to extend the 8pm closing time for pubs and restaurants. Photograph: Getty

Government facing battle with own TDs to keep restrictions for another fortnight

Jane Byrne of Studio Dancewear in Carlow, fits her daughter, Áine, for pointe shoes. Photograph: Laura Hutton

For retailers, the UK’s exit has complicated life but also broadened their horizons

Darragh McCullough with daffodil pickers Raul Cristea, Claudiu Lemburg and Catalin Muntean from Romania, on Elmgrove farm in Gormanston, Co Meath. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

UK immigration curbs on pickers has benefited Irish growers in a seasonal industry

Richard O’Halloran, a 46-year-old father of four, has been blocked from leaving China since February 2019

Tara O’Halloran calls for urgent Government action to seek release of her husband

A photograph of the celebration at a time of Covid-19 restrictions on gatherings was posted on Twitter by then secretary general of the department Niall Burgess

Minister willing to go before Oireachtas committee to answer any questions

Foreign secretary Liz Truss greets EU post-Brexit negotiator Maros Sefcovic in Kent. Photograph: Ben Stansall/PA Wire

Coveney foresees ‘landing zone’ over next two months if talks stay on track

Fewer Northern Irish companies were struggling to deal with the post-Brexit trading rules under the Northern Ireland Protocol as 2021 wore on, a new survey shows.

Northern Ireland protocol cited as only fourth most significant challenge for businesses

Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan said the possibility of lifting Covid-19 restrictions on hospitality and other sectors was ‘all in play’ next week. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Lifting of hospitality restrictions ‘all in play’ despite record Covid numbers, Holohan says

 Dr Ronan Glynn, the deputy chief medical officer, told a media briefing on Wednesday that the current certificates are valid for 270 days so anyone who completed their primary vaccination course last July will be able to travel to the vast majority of countries until April. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Younger people who must wait for booster shot due to infection will not get free PCR test

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan: the changes, coming into effect on Friday, were not about ‘abandoning’ Covid-19 measures but replacing them with new guidance. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Nphet says it needs another week to know full effect of variant on hospital system

People who test positive for Covid-19 on an antigen test will no longer be required to seek a confirmatory PCR test under new rules. File photograph: Damien Meyer/AFP via Getty Images

Government has relaxed testing and isolation rules for Covid cases and close contacts

Nphet has advised that a medical mask rather than a cloth mask should be worn by anyone who is a confirmed Covid-19 case.

Advisers say high-grade masks are better but people should only wear them if they want to

Germany and Italy are among the countries who have promoted the use of FFP2 or equivalent masks in public spaces. File photograph: Getty Images

Public health team stops short of advising respirator or medical masks instead of cloth variety

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson, right, and Nigel Dodds arrive at the British Foreign Office for a meeting with foreign secretary Liz Truss. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Mary Lou McDonald says ‘stability’ should be focus rather than DUP ‘electoral positioning’

Aoife Beary and six other students were left with life-changing injuries after the Berkeley balcony collapse tragedy in 2015

Dublin woman was one of seven students who survived the 2015 tragedy in the US

Members of the public queue to get Covid PCR tested at the Citywest Hotel in Co Dublin on Tuesday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Infectious Diseases Society says changes will confuse and public may not comply

Covid-19 testing rules are being changed to free up capacity in a testing system overwhelmed by a surge in infections due to the more infectious Omicron variant. File photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Soaring infection rates and a testing system close to breaking point have led to new rules

 Anyone with a positive antigen test should seek a confirmatory PCR test but those who receive a negative antigen test should continue to self-isolate until they are symptom-free for 48 hours. Photograph: Laura Hutton

Those aged 4-39 who have symptoms advised to use rapid tests first in effort to ease demand

Former Defence Forces chief-of-staff Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett:  early projections on Covid-19 mortalities were ‘quite frightening’. Photograph: Alan Betson

Facilities were set up at Sarsfield Barracks in Limerick and Royal Hospital Kilmainham

Christmas shoppers in Dublin last week. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Immunologist says focus should be on hospitalisations rather than case numbers

A ship in Dublin Port. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Department braced for quadrupling of vet health certs on food exports from next year

The lab at the RocDoc Rapid Covid test centre in Dublin Airport. Photograph: Alan Betson

With half of tests positive, senior official says focus should shift to ‘individual actions’

A child receives a dose of the Pfizer vaccine in Strasbourg. Photograph: Sebastien Bozon/AFP via Getty

Parents can register children aged five to 11 who have a health condition

The walk-in clinics are operating on Monday for Dose 1 and 2 and booster vaccines for healthcare workers, pregnant women and people aged over 40. Photograph: The Irish Times

Highly infectious Omicron variant now accounting for 87% of cases in the Republic

Demand for Covid-19 PCR tests is ‘extremely high’ after Christmas

Boosters for over-30s to be available from Wednesday as vaccination centres reopen

 Chief medical officer  Dr Tony Holohan and Taoiseach Micheál Martin at Government Buildings, Dublin. Dr Holohan said  he was not surprised by the high daily cases as Omicron now accounts for nearly three-quarters of them. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Ministers may consider tighter restrictions as Holohan warns of ‘rapid increase’ in cases

People queue at the HSE vaccination centre at Citywest. The Minister for Health says boosters will be made available from next Wednesday to those aged 30 to 39 and those aged 16 to 29 who received the single-dose Janssen vaccine. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Fast-rising Omicron wave of infection pushes HSE coronavirus testing system to its limit

Christmas shoppers in Dublin on Thursday. PA Photo. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Early overseas evidence shows variant is not causing same level of severe disease

  Stella Lonergan (83) from Portmarnock gets a Christmas visit from her son Rory and a window visit from her grandchildren Tess (4) and Ben (8) and daughter-in-law Laura Saunders at the Talbot Lodge nursing home in   Malahide. Photograph: Alan Betson

New health guidance issued for care homes in light of Omicron concerns over Christmas

The Covid Restrictions Support Scheme will be paid to businesses who feel they cannot operate due to the new restrictions. Photograph: Sam Boal/The Irish Times

Latest scheme on back of new rules ‘similar or better’ than supports at height of lockdown

The HSE’s head of the vaccination programme has  said  the plans for administering booster doses to people in their 20s and 30s would be finalised this week. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Next phase of vaccination programme in January complicated by multiple rollouts

State chief medical officer Tony Holohan noted research that half the people with symptoms of coronavirus are not self-isolating – which he called “the single most important piece of basic public health advice”.  Photograph: Getty

Incidence in those aged 19-34 up by between 50% and 70% in the course of last seven days

Nursing Homes Ireland   said   the report refutes the long-standing HSE contention that its nursing homes provide care to residents with higher dependence care needs

Private care homes criticise deal in funding for HSE homes under Fair Deal scheme

Queue at Citywest: Nationwide efforts to protect against Omicron were stepped up over the weekend as the Covid-19 vaccine booster programme opened to people in their 40s.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Fears expressed about impact of infection on hospitals as new strain takes over

Booster injection queue outside Park’s Pharmacy on Dorset Street Lower: Even if a small percentage of a larger number of infected people become severely ill, that will result in large numbers of severely ill people requiring hospital or critical care. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Omicron variant pressure on hospitals may force imposition of more severe social curbs

Schools expect ‘huge absenteeism’ rates this week due to fears among parents over rising numbers of Covid-19 cases and proximity to the Christmas holidays. Photograph: iStock

Health expert says it would be ‘insane’ to reopen schools as there is no reason for it

Shoppers in the Midtown neighbourhood of New York. The city reported a record number of daily Covid-19 infections last week. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

Guests at Irish consulate’s media party told to get tested after attendee tests positive

Nphet reported a further 5,124 confirmed cases of Covid-19. There were 436 Covid-19 patients in hospital on Sunday morning. Photograph Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Further 5,124 cases of Covid-19 confirmed, including Minister Eamon Ryan who is self-isolating at home

The weekly Covid-19 outbreaks do not include figures on the number of outbreaks affecting Garda stations or other named State bodies or agencies. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Outbreak in Portlaoise leads to several District Court cases being adjourned

The turtle, nicknamed “Macdara”, is thought to have originated in tropical waters near the Canary Islands but was caught on the wrong current as a result of the recent Storm Barra and swept north to the Irish west coast.

Sea turtle found in ‘cold shock’ after being swept on wrong current by Storm Barra

A child  is vaccinated against Covid-19 at a vaccination centre in Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal. Photograph: Homem De Gouveia/EPA

Vaccination of children aged five to 11 to start with high-risk children next week

All restaurants and bars must close by 8pm under new restrictions. Photograph: iStock

Tighter rules on social mixing over fears about more contagious Omicron variant

Taoiseach Micheál Martin at the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels on Thursday. The Taoiseach is expected to return to Dublin this afternoon and a Cabinet meeting is expected soon after. Photograph: Johanna Geron/EPA

Major sporting events threatened due to concern over looming Omicron wave

A child waits sitting on a bench before receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Madrid, Spain. File photograph: Oscar Del Pozo/AFP via Getty Images

HSE chief says health service is at ‘extremely high risk’ heading into a ‘wave of Omicron’

The 14-day Covid-incidence rate nationally is 1,305.1 cases per 100,000 people. Photograph: iStock

Carlow was worst-affected county in 14 days to December 13th, figures show

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said it was ‘an urgent situation’ with the Omicron variant ‘spreading rapidly’. File photograph:  Damien Eagers/PA Wire

39 cases of Omicron now confirmed but 27% of new infections show marker for variant

‘Brandon’ was moved from the HSE-run Ard Gréine Court complex in in Stranorlar, to Brentwood Manor in Convoy, in May 2016

Report on sex abuse at Donegal centre published before it was seen by all families

The only people currently eligible for boosters are all those aged 50 and over

More than 1.3 million boosters are given in State so far in race against highly contagious Omicron variant

Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital has been targeted by a ransomware attack. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Attack believed to be contained to single hospital, as Reid describes risk as ‘moderate’

Lorries at Holyhead port in Wales. The checks due to come in on January 1st are designed to bring post-Brexit customs arrangements between the UK and EU into line with those with the rest of the world. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images

Varadkar welcomes extension while EU-UK talks on Northern Ireland protocol continue

The country’s homecare services are in ‘dire need’ of being regulated, State health service watchdog Hiqa has said

Hiqa calls for urgent oversight of homecare as needs of State’s ageing population grow

One in eight older adults in Ireland are reported to have low levels of vitamin B12. Photograph: iStock

TCD researchers find 51 per cent increased likelihood of developing symptoms

Queues outside the vaccination centre at Cork City Hall. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/ Provision

Moderna confined to those aged 30 years and over while under-30s will be given Pfizer

The queue outside the UCD vaccination centre on Thursday morning. The Taoiseach apologised to the hundreds of people who were turned away from the oversubscribed walk-in clinic. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

‘Only a matter of time’ before variant is more dominant in State as six cases now identified

There are an estimated 480,000 children aged between five and 11. Photograph: iStock

HSE ‘working around the clock’ to put vaccine plan in place for 5-11 year age group

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said it was heartening to see large numbers of people attending walk-in vaccination centres on Thursday to receive their Covid-19 booster dose. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Six cases of Omicron variant detected in Ireland and 4,022 new Covid-19 cases reported

Some 12 per cent of people who died with Covid-19 throughout the pandemic had been admitted to intensive care in hospital. Photograph: iStock

Coronavirus death toll in Republic during 21-month pandemic stands at 5,788

The queue outside the UCD vaccination centre on Thursday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

People queued at UCD for prolonged periods but demand outstripped capability at centre

Even though boosters have been available to some groups for several weeks, significant numbers of certain age cohorts still have not got their boosters. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Technical issues have complicated latest section of HSE’s vaccination programme

There is a fear the Omicron situation in Britain could be mirrored here in coming weeks, a threat that could prompt restrictions on non-essential international travel over the Christmas period. File photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Omicron may now be in Ireland in significant numbers, according to senior figure

Since the weekend, all people arriving into the State who have been vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 must have a negative test result. Photograph: iStock

Department says ‘vast majority’ of 80,000 arrivals since Sunday had correct records

Niac has recommended that the vaccines be given first to children with an underlying condition and those who are living with a younger child with complex medical needs or with an immunocompromised adult. Photograph: iStock

Children to be given two doses lower than those administered to adults

HSE chief operations officer Anne O’Connor has called on people to cancel their vaccination centre appointment if they had received their booster through their GP or pharmacy. Photograph: Tom Honan

Further 81 Covid-19 deaths notified in past week as HSE reviews vaccine appointment system

A lucky escape for a motorist at Newcastle, Co Wicklow, on Tuesday morning after a tree fell on the windscreen of their car. Photograph: Wicklow Fire Service

Schools in 12 counties told to close as Government warns worst not yet over

The HSE said there has not been the same urgency from the public to go for boosters as during the initial vaccination programme. File photograph: Getty

High number of no-shows for booster appointments discussed at Cabinet meeting

People out during Storm Barra on the East Pier in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Clare under red wind warning overnight while orange alert extended to Dublin

Margaret Buttimer after a court appearance in July. She was ultimately jailed for 90 days during the summer for refusing to wear a face mask while shopping. File photograph: Michael MacSweeney

Co Cork woman Margaret Buttimer remanded over breach of bail conditions

Three in 10 HSE workers said they had been subject to assault from the public in the past two years. Photograph: Alan Betson

Staff satisfaction with quality of care rises but four in 10 feel service is deteriorating

Paschal Donohoe said the PUP scheme was being reopened and a targeted version of the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme was being introduced for hospitality businesses. Photograph: Getty Images

Donohoe says he will look at raising €5,000 weekly cap in Covid support for large businesses

The booster jabs are expected to be administered initially by appointment only at vaccination centres for people who have had their second vaccine dose at least five months earlier. Photograph: Joseph Prezioso /AFP via Getty Images

New advice to schools on mask wearing for children to be issued on Monday

One person complained he had told his tester he had asthma and might need to cough because he had recently changed inhalers, causing irritation to his throat. Photograph: Getty Images

Cork’s test centre has highest pass rate with Dublin test centres among lowest

More than 93%  of the State’s adult population has been fully vaccinated, making Ireland the country with the highest vaccination rate in the EU.  Photograph: Getty Images

Reluctance among people aged 18 to 34 is slightly higher than the general population

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the unvaccinated have a disproportionate impact on our health services, on our ICU bed. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

‘Public health will advise, Government will decide,’ Micheál Martin says

The analysis indicates that the Republic has some of the longest waiting times in the EU15 for various procedures. File photograph: Getty

Irish healthcare capital spend between 1970 and 1966 two-thirds that of other EU countries

The HSE’s chief clinical officer, Dr Colm Henry, has warned there will ‘probably’ be breakthrough infections among people who receive Covid-19 vaccine booster doses. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Ministers and officials to consider reduced capacity for pubs and restaurants

Dr Colm Henry, Paul Reid and Anne O’Connor at Dr Steevens Hospital for the HSE’s operational update on the response to Covid-19. Photograph: Leah Farrell / Photocall Ireland

HSE says falling case numbers among older people due to boosters a ‘cause for hope’

Adam Tooze says the new variant is a consequence of ‘making choices’ to deal with the virus nationally but not globally

Author Adam Tooze says evolving virus is ‘teaching us the lesson’ of failing to prepare

At school gates, parents had to ensure children, aged nine and upwards, had their masks on properly before they headed into classrooms. Photograph: Bryan O Brien/The Irish Times

Families happy to comply but want new rule to be temporary to reduce Covid-19 cases

Chris Scott in the bathroom of his mica-affected home in Shroove, Inishowen, Co Donegal. Photograph: Joe Dunne

TD who raised possibility of resigning gives ‘cautious welcome’ to scheme

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien: The square-footage costs will be reviewed every year in line with inflation and the annual cost of building as set by the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Square-foot caps on rebuilding costs will still leave many property owners out of pocket

European ombudsman Emily O’Reilly. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

ICCL senior fellow says European Commission needs to act over pace of investigations

HSE CEO Paul Reid said it was “extremely challenging” dealing with the demand for Covid-19 tests.  Photograph: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

As many as 90 per cent of new cases in SA’s Gauteng province could be B.1.1.529

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has urged people to reduce their social contacts. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Nphet advises that children aged nine and over should wear face masks in school

     The HSE said that mass vaccination centres would open to those over 50 who are over five months since their second dose.

Department of Health said 4,764 confirmed cases of Covid-19 on Thursday

More than 200,000 Covid-19 tests have been carried out over the past seven days, putting the test and tracing system under heavy strain. File photograph: Made Nagi/EPA

Latest extension comes as HSE’s testing and tracing system is under severe pressure

 Minister for Foreign Affairs  Simon Coveney: said  there was a chance ‘to seize momentum’ toward finding a compromise in EU-UK negotiations. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Minister says there is ‘a lot at stake’ given potential ‘carryover’ to EU-UK trade deal

Deirdre Morley and Andrew McGinley with their three children: Conor (9), Darragh (7) and Carla (3). Ms Morley was found not guilty by reason of insanity of murdering her three children.

McGinley had been due to speak on Late Late Show about children, who were killed by their mother Deirdre Morley

There have been 1,792 linked cases reported in primary school outbreaks during the fourth week of the pandemic since June and 152 in secondary schools. Photograph: iStock

Report shows 24 new outbreaks reported in schools in a week, an increase of eight

New research has shown that housework leads to sharper memory and attention span in older people. Photograph: iStock

Doing more chores better protects against falls in older age, medical journal report finds

“We can change the trajectory of this disease by breaking the chains of transmission,” Tony Hologan said. Photograph: Gareth Chaney /Collins Photos

Vaccinations for primary school children may not begin until New Year, says Taoiseach

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Messaging app provides additional information to EU users after order with €225m fine

Red Kennedy of Voici creperie and wine bar in Rathmines, Dublin. ‘Anyone with experience can name their price. But there is a limit. I know that certain companies aren’t opening on certain days because they don’t have the staff.’Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Businesses and recruiters struggle to find staff in a market that now favours the worker

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic warned that the use of Article 16 by the British government would affect the overall trade agreement with the UK. Photograph: John Thys/EPA/Pool

European Commission vice president met with UK’s David Frost on Friday

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern: he said loyalists see the  protocol as a ‘trick by the South’ to create a united Ireland. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Ex-taoiseach says solving issues on political identity more difficult than trade issues

Three local electoral areas in and around Drogheda are currently among the five worst affected areas in the State for the disease, new data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre shows.

Local area data shows one in every 41 people in the town are infected

NO FEE PICPIC JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHYGovernment Task Force on Emergency PlanningLaunch of Be Winter Ready Information Campaign 2021-2022 Simon Coveney, T.D., Minister of Defence and Chair of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning launches the Be Winter Ready Information Campaign 2021-2022. Minister Coveney was accompanied by Hildegard Naughton T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Transport with special responsibility for International and Road Transport and Logistic and Martin Heydon T.D, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with special responsibility for Research and Development, Farm Safety and New Market Development.Evelyn Cusack, Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann was also at the campaign launch.Photo: Julien Behal Photography 17/11/2021 UK unwillingness to compromise in the row with the EU  ‘deeply disappointing’, Simon Coveney has said. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography

Loyalists see protocol as ‘a trick by the South’ to take over the North, says Ahern

Dublin Port is a critical infrastructure for Irish trade and accounted for almost 85% of unitised trade into Irish ports last year. File photograph: The Irish Times

Project to include construction of private road and bridge spanning the river Liffey

In excess of 24,000 appointments offered in community testing centres on Monday. File photograph: Getty

Holohan issues festive alert after more than 50,000 infections recorded in last fortnight

Nphet says booster doses restore and even increase protection against symptomatic infection and severe disease. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The Government has extended the booster programme to 2.2 million this week

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