With Ireland reporting near-record case numbers (but much lower death rates) since early November, despite 91% of eligible people over 12 now fully vaccinated, restrictions have been reinstated.
Starting on 7th December, Irish nightclubs have been forced to shut again and the hospitality sector faces tighter rules over Christmas as the government tries to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Indoor events such as concerts and sports fixtures must operate at 50% capacity and private home visits must involve no more than four households.
The latest rules will be in place until 9th January 2022.
The Irish government took the decisions at a cabinet meeting after advice from the chief medical officer and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).
Ireland’s Prime Minister, Micheál Martin said the "risks associated with proceeding into the Christmas period without some restrictions to reduce the volume of personal contacts is just too high".
Many of the restrictions which applied to pubs, hotels and restaurants prior to the relaxation of Covid rules on 22nd October will now be re-imposed for the Christmas and New Year period.
The Republic of Ireland is already operating the EU Covid pass system for the hospitality industry in which people need proof of Covid status to enter certain venues.
Mr Martin said the pass would also now be required for gyms and leisure centres as well as hotel bars and restaurants.
Ireland’s covid unemployment payment scheme will temporarily return to help people who lose their jobs in the entertainment sector because of the new rules.