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Dublin, Ireland – The Irish government has announced new measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, including a nationwide lockdown and the closure of non-essential businesses. The decision comes as Ireland experiences a surge in cases and hospitalizations, with the country reporting over 4,000 new cases on Wednesday alone.

Under the new restrictions, which will come into effect from midnight on Wednesday, people will only be allowed to leave their homes for essential reasons, such as grocery shopping, medical appointments, and exercise within a 5km radius. Non-essential retail will be closed, with click-and-collect and delivery services allowed. Bars and restaurants will only be allowed to provide takeaway and delivery services.

The new measures will be in place until at least the end of January, with schools and childcare facilities remaining closed until February 1st. Essential services, such as healthcare and public transport, will continue to operate.

The announcement of the new restrictions has been met with mixed reactions, with some expressing support for the measures and others criticizing the government for not acting sooner. Taoiseach MicheΓ‘l Martin defended the decision, stating that the situation had become “very serious” and that the government had acted based on the advice of public health officials.

The Irish government has also announced a package of financial supports for businesses affected by the new restrictions, including a 300 million euro fund for affected businesses and a waiver of commercial rates for the first quarter of 2021.

The new restrictions come as Ireland experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases, with the country reporting over 4,000 new cases on Wednesday alone. The number of hospitalizations has also increased, with over 700 people currently hospitalized with the virus.

The new measures are similar to those introduced during the first lockdown in March 2020, which lasted for several months. The government has emphasized the importance of compliance with the new measures, with fines and penalties in place for those who do not comply.

The new restrictions have also led to the cancellation of several events, including the Dublin Marathon and the St. Patrick’s Festival. The government has stated that it will review the situation in mid-January and make a decision on whether to extend the restrictions or not.

Overall, the new measures are aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting public health. While they are undoubtedly disruptive and difficult for many, they are a necessary step in the fight against the virus. The Irish government and public health officials are urging everyone to comply with the new measures and do their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19.