Taoiseach confirms new lockdown and travel restrictions

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An Taoiseach Michéal Martin has confirmed that Ireland will be in lockdown until at least 5 March.

The Taoiseach said the lockdown is having a ‘positive impact’ on the prevalence of Covid in the community, but said that numbers in hospital are ‘too high’.

The government plans to increase Garda checkpoints on routes near ports and airports, and checks on returning passengers will be introduced.

Mandatory quarantine in hotels for those arriving from Brazil, South Africa, and those without negative PCR tests, has also been approved.

But it could take weeks before the new travel rules come into force as legislation is needed.

Travellers without a negative test will also face a fine of up to €2,500 indoor up to six months’ in jail, and returning holidaymakers will face increased fines.

All passengers will face a legal requirement to self-isolate after arriving in the country, with criminal sanctions for not quarantining.

Checkpoints will be set up by Gardaí 5km from the borders with counties in the North.

But the 5km limit on travel will not change – but extra gardaí will be deployed and anyone on breach of the travel limit will get a fine.

The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that it is reasonable to project we will reduce cases and begin to re-open schools from February.