Government sources have confirmed a whole raft of restrictions will be introduced in the coming days.

A ban on inter-county travel is to come into effect after St. Stephen’s Day as part of the government’s response to the increase in positive Covid-19 cases.

Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will remain closed after 3pm on Christmas Eve, whilst gyms can remain open for individual training. Other non-essential retail outlets can also remain open.

Churches will not be allowed public Masses after Christmas Day, with all religious services moving online.

People will reportedly be allowed to travel home after St. Stephen’s Day, but are prohibited from leaving their county to visit elsewhere. Household visits will also be limited to one other household from December 27th.

Weddings meanwhile will be reduced to six people after January 3rd, with hotels only allowed to take bookings from essential workers.

The ban on travel to and from Britain will be extended to December 31st, whilst all household visits will be prohibited from January 1st.

The restrictions, which are likely to be reviewed in early January, come after last night’s warning from Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan that the country was experiencing a significant rise in cases and needed a return to Level 5.

The cabinet reportedly met this morning at Dublin Castle to agree on their response to Dr. Holohan’s advice, with an announcement from the Taoiseach expected later today.

UPDATE: 

Speaking this afternoon after making the announcement, Mr Martin said: “One thing which remains absolutely consistent of this virus is that it is pote”ntially deadly.”

“And if it is left to spread unchecked. It will reach the most vulnerable, and they will pay a heavy price.”

“A lot of people will be receiving today’s news with a heavy heart. I know that I bring it to you with one, but each and every one of us needs to remember that while we may not feel like what we have done today and what we are doing now, is saving lives, because of the sacrifices that so many are making.”

“Many, many people who are alive today would not be otherwise,” Martin claimed.

“As despondent as any of us might feel with the return of restrictions, it is important to remember that the hope is real. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines are on the way.”