In response to the surging Omicron variant, the Republic of Ireland has announced a wave of new coronavirus restrictions on homes, nightclubs, and restaurants from December 7 — January 9, 2022.
According to the rules recently announced by Taoiseach Micheal Martin, multi-household gatherings should include no more than three households in one home at the same time. Nightclubs will be closed down completely and restaurants and bars will only be allowed to have seating service with parties no bigger than six people during this time as well.
Sky News also reports that “[i]ndoor events such as concerts must operate at 50% capacity.”
The British media outlet adds that the new rules come despite the vast majority of eligible people being vaccinated and with death rates lower than previous surges:
Nightclubs were only able to reopen in October, after more than 18 months shut.
The country has been reporting near-record case numbers since early November, despite 91% of eligible people over 12 now fully vaccinated.
However, the death rate is much lower than previous waves.
Deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar said Ireland was “facing a rather peculiar situation” because it was tightening rules when “the epidemiological picture is actually improving”, RTE reported.
Reuters reports that “Ireland has been reporting COVID-19 case numbers near record highs since early November.”
The new rules come as nations across the world race to prevent the Omicron variant from spreading, despite a lack of strong evidence that this variant is more threatening than previous variants. On Wednesday, The Daily Wire reported that the doctor who discovered the Omicron variant was “stunned” by the reaction her discovery sparked:
Citing the heavy travel restrictions that Europe has imposed, she opined, “The simple truth is: we don’t know yet anywhere near enough about Omicron to make such judgments or to impose such policies.”
She compared South Africa’s response to Europe’s:
In South Africa, we’ve retained a sense of perspective. We’ve had no new regulations or talk of lockdowns because we’re waiting to see what the variant actually means. We’ve also become accustomed here to new Covid variants emerging. So when our scientists confirmed the discovery of yet another, nobody made a huge thing of it. Many people didn’t even notice.
She suggested, “If, as some evidence suggests, Omicron turns out to be a fast-spreading virus with mostly mild symptoms for the majority of the people who catch it, that would be a useful step on the road to herd immunity. … We’ll learn in the next two weeks if that’s the case. The worst situation – of course – would be a fast-spreading virus with severe infections. But that’s not where we are at the moment.”
On Monday’s episode of The Daily Wire’s Morning Wire, Johns Hopkins University Dr. Marty Makary also emphasized that people should not panic over the new variant.
“So, I would say, don’t change your lives. Let’s not create fear based on the unknown,” Dr. Makary said to Americans wondering how they should proceed safely.
Ireland’s new measures come during Christmas time, something Taoiseach Martin recognized as frustrating, but stated, “The risks associated with proceeding into the Christmas period without some restrictions…is just too high,” according to Sky News.