Ireland has further tightened its Covid-19 lockdown measures, closing construction sites and schools across the country, Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Micheál Martin announced Wednesday, adding that such measures would be necessary "to suppress the surge and flatten the curve once again."
Under the new restrictions all schools will close and move online until the end of January. An exception has been made for final year students, who will be allowed to attend school three days a week from January 11.
Other childcare services will also close, with exceptions made for vulnerable children and the children of frontline workers.
Non-essential construction projects will be ordered to close from 6pm on Friday, Martin added, acknowledging "how severe a measure this is on the construction sector."
On Wednesday, 7,836 new cases were recorded by Ireland’s Department of Health, and national hospitalization figures surpassed those from the first wave of the pandemic, Ireland’s Health Executive boss Paul Reid said on Twitter.
This surging case rate prompted the Irish government to re-impose Level 5 lockdown measures on December 30.
Taoiseach Martin said Wednesday that the situation in Ireland "is not dissimilar to what is happening in the UK in terms of the rapid growth in community transmission and rapid hospitalizations."