Coronavirus: Non-essential retailers prepare to close for at least one month

Non-essential retailers are opening on Thursday for the final time before closing for at least one month.

It comes as the country has officially entered its third lockdown.

Household visits are no longer permitted after the measure came in to effect at midnight.

This excludes essential family reasons such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, or as part of a support bubble.

Meanwhile, school holidays have been extended until the second week of January.

The measures will end on January 31st, while Taoiseach Micheál Martin says the Government will take a cautious approach to lifting them.

In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, he said strict new measures were urgently needed as the spread of the virus had “surpassed the most pessimistic models available to us”.

He said the current situation “is extremely serious” with the case numbers expected to “deteriorate further over the coming days”.

Mr Martin added that since the arrival of the new strain of COVID-19 in Ireland, “now is not the time for nuance in our response”.

It was also announced that a ban on travel between Ireland and Britain has been extended until January 6th.

It comes as 1,718 new cases of coronavirus were detected in Ireland on Wednesday – the highest figure recorded since the start of the pandemic.

The estimated national 14-day incidence rate of the disease is now 272 – while Donegal and Monaghan have rates of more than 500 cases per 100,000.

There were 466 people with the disease in the country’s hospitals.