By Sarah Mooney
Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris has said the Government will act to bring in new Covid-19 restrictions on Monday, saying that “decisive” and “nationwide” action will be taken.
Mr Harris said that current Level 3 restrictions had “not worked in terms of getting the virus to where it needs to get to” and the Government needed to balance restrictions with “what people can bear or sustain”.
With either Level 4 or 5 restrictions set to face the country tomorrow, here are the differences between the levels.
At Level 4, the priority is to keep schools and childcare services open, while keeping people safe. No visitors to private homes or social gatherings are allowed while only businesses and services deemed to be essential will be open.
At Level 5, the public health risk means that people will be asked to stay at home, except to exercise within five kilometres of their home. There will be no gatherings other than small numbers at funerals and weddings.
Gatherings – differences
Funerals: At Level 4 can be attended by up to 25 mourners while at Level 5 they can be attended by up to 10 mourners.
Organised outdoor gatherings: At Level 4 such as outdoor arts events and training events with a named organiser, owner or manager can take place with up to 15 people. At Level 5 they should no longer take place.
Gatherings – similarities
Gatherings in a home or garden: At both Levels 4 and 5 do not permit any visitors. No social or family gatherings should take place in other settings also.
Weddings: At both Levels 4 and 5 ceremonies and receptions can be attended by up to 6 guests. Guests cannot leave their county to attend a wedding under Level 4. It is unclear if they can travel beyond five kilometres to attend a wedding under Level 5.
Religious services: At both Levels 4 and 5 must move online with places of worship remaining open for private prayer.
Organised indoor gatherings: At both Levels 4 and 5 such as events in theatres, cinemas, arts events, business events, training events or conferences should not take place.
Daily life – differences
Restrictions on domestic travel: At Level 4 are in place as people are asked to stay in their county apart from work, education and other essential purposes. At Level 5 stricter restrictions are in place as people are asked to stay at home and exercise within five kilometres of their homes.
Schools and childcare services: At Level 4 will remain open with protective measures. Higher and adult education: At Level 4 such as universities must move primarily online with appropriate protective measures in place for essential attendance on site. At Level 5 all will be subject to “recommendations based on situation and evidence at time.”
Working from home: At Level 4 should take place, with only essential or other “designated” workers attending in person. At Level 5 only those working in health, social care or other essential services can attend work in person.
Daily life – similarities
Public transport: At both Levels 4 and 5 face coverings must be worn, capacity will be limited to 25 per cent, and the service should be used for essential workers and purposes only.
Those aged over 70 and the medically vulnerable: At both Levels 4 and 5 they should “exercise judgement” regarding the extent to which they engage with others and in activities outside home, with specific guidance set to be provided.
Nursing and care home visits: At both Levels 4 and 5 visits are suspended aside from “critical and compassionate circumstances.”
Businesses and services – differences
Bars, cafes, restaurants and wet pubs: At Level 4 can remain open for outdoor dining with a maximum of 15 people and takeaways only. At Level 5 they can open for takeaway or delivery only.
Hotels and accommodation: At Level 4 can remain open for existing guests only and for those with essential non-social and non-tourist purposes. At Level 5 they can remain open for those with essential non-social and non-tourist purposes only.
Essential retail and businesses: At Level 4 that are primarily outdoors only can remain open. All other retail and personal services will be closed. At Level 5 only essential retailers can remain open with the wearing of face coverings. All other retail and personal services will be closed.
Businesses and services – similarities
Museums, galleries and other cultural attractions: At both Levels 4 and 5 they must all be closed.
Nightclubs, discos and casinos: At both Levels 4 and 5 they will remain closed.
Sports – differences
Outdoor non-contact training: At Level 4 can take place in pods of up to 15. Indoor training: At Level 4 can only be undertaken by individuals, with no exercise or dance classes. At Level 5 both indoor and outdoor training can take place for individuals only.
Matches and events: At Level 4 most cannot take place, with exemptions for professional, elite, inter-country and horse-racing taking place behind closed doors. At Level 5 no matches and events can take place, with no exemptions.
Sports – similarities
Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools: At both Levels 4 and 5 they will be closed.