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‘Free-for-all’ Christmas could lead to January lockdown, warns minister

Pippa Hackett urged the population to ‘knuckle down’ and follow public health advice.

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Pippa Hackett ruled out a complete reopening of society for Christmas (Niall Carson/PA)

Pippa Hackett ruled out a complete reopening of society for Christmas (Niall Carson/PA)

Pippa Hackett ruled out a complete reopening of society for Christmas (Niall Carson/PA)

A free-for-all approach to Christmas could result in Ireland being plunged into another period of lockdown in January, a government minister has warned.

Ireland is due to leave Level 5 restrictions on December 1, with the Government set to announce plans to move forward within the next number of days.

Pippa Hackett, Minister of State in the Department for Agriculture, ruled out a complete reopening of society for Christmas.

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People walk past a new mural in Phibsborough, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

People walk past a new mural in Phibsborough, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

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People walk past a new mural in Phibsborough, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

“There is no point indicating to people we are going to open up for two weeks at Christmas because that is just a free for all,” she told RTE’s The Week In Politics programme.

“As difficult as it is now to get people to adhere to the regulations, a free-for-all two-week holiday at Christmas, that will be lockdown after Christmas.”

She went on: “We have a week or so now to really buckle down, obey what we have been asked to do.

“Young and old should be really coming together to do this.

“Ultimately we will have to act on the advice from public health and that’s the most important piece.”

Public health chiefs have warned the progress in bringing down levels of the virus made during lockdown has stalled and say the next two weeks will be critical.

Intense discussions are expected between Government and Nphet in the coming days around future restrictions.

One further Covid-19 linked death and 318 confirmed cases of the virus were reported in Ireland on Sunday.

As of 2pm on Sunday, 282 coronavirus patients were in hospital, 31 of whom were in intensive care.

PA


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