DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland will from Thursday require bars and nightclubs to close early while ramping up the use of booster vaccines in a bid to combat a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in its largely vaccinated population, the governing party said on Tuesday.
Three months ago it announced plans to drop almost all restrictions within weeks, but infection numbers have since increased again to levels close to last January’s all-time peak, even though more than 90% of adults are now vaccinated.
From Thursday, nightclubs, bars as well as restaurants must close by midnight and workers will be advised to work from home where possible, Prime Minister Micheal Martin’s Fianna Fail party said in a Twitter post.
The government had ended an 11:30 p.m. curfew on Oct. 22 and was encouraging workers to return to offices on a phased basis.
“The situation is getting worse and will get worse before it gets better,” Martin told journalists ahead of a cabinet meeting to confirm the new restrictions, after health chiefs warned of significant pressure on hospitals in the coming weeks.
Health officials have pointed to the waning effectiveness of vaccine doses after several months as a key factor in resurging COVID rates, saying they have been less successful than hoped in preventing vaccinated people from spreading the virus. Critics also say the government dropped restrictions prematurely.
The government was due to make a formal announcement of the new restrictions – reflecting a trend elsewhere in the European Union including Germany https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/germany-considers-tighter-covid-19-curbs-cases-soar-2021-11-16 and the Netherlands Dutch debate dropping ‘corona pass’ to indoor venues for the unvaccinated – later on Tuesday.
Proof of vaccination, already required for access to bars and nightclubs, will also be required for cinemas and theatres as part of the new measures.
The government also announced that it planned to begin issuing booster vaccine doses to those aged between 50 and 60.
(Reporting by Graham Fahy and Conor Humphries; editing by Mark Heinrich)