The Government has extended the level five coronavirus restrictions until March 5th.
All current restrictions are being extended, while there will be a clampdown on travel.
The Government says while maintaining the restrictions will place "continued demands on society and business", it is essential that cases reduce to protect the vulnerable, protect the health care services and re-open schools "at the earliest opportunity."
Non-essential international travel is a breach of level five rules.
The Government has agreed to introduce a number of measures aimed at reducing the risk, including:
- An increase to the fixed penalty for breach of the rules relating to international travel
- Increased Garda checks and enforcement activity relating to people travelling internationally who are in breach of level five rules
- The existing regulations requiring pre-departure PCR tests will be extended to March 5th
- A range of mandatory quarantine measures will be introduced, applying to all international arrivals
- Mandatory quarantine at a designated facility will be required for passengers who arrive in breach of the pre-departure negative PCR requirement
- Mandatory quarantine at designated facility will be required for persons who arrive from Brazil and South Africa
While the categories of 'essential travel' are to be reviewed to ensure this is 'as limited as possible.'
Application of these measures to passengers who are not EU/EEA citizens can be introduced by regulations.
For all others, it will be necessary to amend primary legislation, which will get under way immediately.
In other cases, passengers will be required by law to quarantine at home.
There are also restriction of travel from South Africa, Brazil and other south American countries - including the suspension of visa-free short-term visits - until March 5th.
There will be extra Garda checkpoints, including on routes near ports and airports.
There will also be checks of returning passengers to detect/deter non-essential international travel.
The Government says payments available under both the Employment Wage Support Scheme (EWSS) and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will continue to be maintained.
Under the EWSS - which provides a subsidy to employers to offset payroll costs - a payment of up to €350 per week will continue to be available until March 31st.
While the PUP - which is available to those who have lost their jobs, including the self-employed - will continue to be made available at the current pay-related level of up to €350 a week until the end of March.