Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal are being moved onto level four of coronavirus restrictions from midnight Thursday.
Meanwhile all household visits across the country are to be banned, except for compassionate grounds and essential reasons like childcare, providing care to elderly or vulnerable people, and in particular those who live alone.
In outdoor settings away from a home or garden, up to six people from no more than two households can meet while maintaining strict social distancing - including for outdoor exercise and dining.
The measures will remain in place until Tuesday November 10th.
What does level four mean for Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan?
- This means there can be no social or family gatherings - other than weddings, with up to six guests, and funerals, with up to 25 mourners
However weddings planned for October 16th, 17th and 18th may go ahead as originally planned up to a limit of 25 guests.
From Monday October 19th, weddings may proceed but with a limit of six guests for ceremony and reception.
Guests cannot leave their county to attend a wedding.
- There can also be no visitors into private homes and gardens, except for essential purposes
- Visits to long-term residential care facilities are suspended except for critical and compassionate circumstances
- People should stay in their county except for essential work, education and other essential purposes
- Only essential workers should travel to work
- Only essential retail and businesses that are primarily outdoors should open.
- All other retail and personal services should be closed
Construction activities will continue
Manufacturing will remain open where necessary to ensure that all national and international supply chains are intact for essential goods
- Schools, regulated childcare and childminding will remain open with existing protective measures
- Further, higher and adult education moves primarily online with appropriate protective measures for essential attendance on site
- People should avoid public transport, which will be operating at 25% capacity. However school transport is unaffected
Bars, cafes and restaurants are open for take-away or delivery and outdoor seating for a maximum of 15 people. There is no indoor dining
Wet pubs may open for take-away or delivery and outdoor service for a maximum of 15 patrons. There is no indoor service
Hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs are only open to existing guests and for essential non-social and non-tourist purposes.
Gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools, museums, galleries and other cultural attractions are closed
Religious services are online only. Places of worship remain open for private prayer
Outdoor playgrounds, play areas and parks remain open
Non-contact training in pods of 15 can take place outdoors - in indoor settings individual training only should take place with no classes
No matches or events should take place other than limited exceptions, such as professional and elite sport/inter-county/horse-racing behind closed doors
No indoor gatherings should take place with outdoor gatherings limited to 15 people
Supports will be available for businesses under the new COVID Restrictions Subsidy Scheme (CRSS), which was announced in Budget 2021.
The CRSS is designed to help those who have been significantly impacted, or temporarily closed, as a result of the restrictions.
The scheme will operate when level three or higher is in place, and will stop when restrictions are lifted.
A payment of up to €5,000 per week will be made, based on a businesses 2019 average weekly turnover.
They can apply to the Revenue Commissioners for a cash payment in respect of an advance credit for trading expenses for the period of restrictions.
What is essential retail?
- Outlets selling food or beverages on a takeaway basis, or newspapers, whether on a retail or wholesale basis and whether in a non-specialised or specialised outlet
- Markets that, wholly or principally, offer food for sale
- Outlets selling products necessary for the essential upkeep and functioning of places of residence and businesses, whether on a retail or wholesale basis
- Pharmacies, chemists and retailers or wholesalers providing pharmaceuticals or pharmaceutical or dispensing services
- Outlets selling health, medical or orthopaedic goods
- Fuel service stations and heating fuel providers
- Outlets selling essential items for the health and welfare of animals (including animal feed and veterinary medicinal products, pet food, animal bedding and animal supplies
- Laundries and drycleaners
- Banks, post offices and credit unions
- Outlets selling safety supplies including work-wear apparel, footwear and personal protective equipment
- Hardware outlets, builders’ merchants and outlets that provide hardware products necessary for home and business maintenance or construction and development, sanitation and farm equipment, or supplies and tools essential for gardening, farming or agriculture
- Optician and optometrist outlets
- Outlets providing hearing test services or selling hearing aids and appliances
- Outlets providing for the sale, supply, repair and maintenance of vehicles or for the repair of bicycles and any related facilities - including tyre sales and repairs
- Outlets selling office products and services for businesses or for applicable persons working from home
- Outlets providing electrical, information and communications technology and telephone sales, repair and maintenance services
Other retailers can also be open for click and collect, where it can be appropriately managed within the public health guidelines.
Speaking on Wednesday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the country had reached a difficult point with the coronavirus, and the current infection numbers are just 'too high'.
He said there was a need for an 'immediate escalation' of restrictions in Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan - with level four measures to include the closure of non-essential retail.
Mr Martin said there are concerns around the full implementation of level three rules - including around household visits.
He also said people should not travel to their workplace 'unless they absolutely have to'.
While Tánaiste Leo Varadkar warned more counties are likely to move to level four restrictions, noting that people should not 'for a second' relax if their counties are not being moved to tougher restrictions.