leo varadkar

Ireland's deputy PM Leo Varadkar, who was voted out of office as PM in February, but who returned to government through a coalition of the losing Establishment parties, grins under his muzzle
Ireland will move to the highest level of Covid-19 restrictions under the Government's five-tier living with Covid roadmap.

Cabinet ministers today agreed to place the country under Level 5 restrictions from midnight on Wednesday for six weeks in a bid to combat the rise in cases of the virus.

The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting at Government Buildings in Dublin this evening. The restrictions will last until December 1.

Level 5 is the most stringent under the Irish system and asks citizens to 'stay at home, except to exercise within 5 kilometres of your home.'

Public gatherings, except for small numbers at funerals and weddings, are banned and only essential shops are allowed to stay open.

Ireland has recorded a total of 49,962 cases, with another 1,283 infections added to that tally in the last 24 hours.

However, fatalities remain low with just three deaths recorded on Sunday, adding to a total of 1,852.

Comment: Three 'Covid deaths'. Suicides and deaths of despair related to the lockdowns are way up. But the government isn't counting those of course.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) and Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan last week urged the government to bring in the Level 5 restrictions for a six week period.

Counties Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan are at Level 4, while the rest of the country is at Level 3.

On Sunday, it was reported that a new lockdown would last for four weeks, but it has since emerged that ministers are being asked to back six weeks.

The restrictions will be reviewed after four weeks and if there has been a change, measures could be eased on a local basis.

Gaelic games, horse and greyhound racing are still permitted behind closed doors, under the Level 5 rules.

Non-contact sports training for children and young people can continue outdoors but only in pods of 15.

Funerals will be limited to ten people.