Despite high vaccination rate, Ireland imposing curfew on bars, nightclubs

Ireland is reimposing some COVID-19 restrictions amid worries that rising infections across the country may overwhelm the health system, according to CNN.  

The move comes despite Ireland achieving a nearly 90 percent vaccination rate among its entire eligible population, which is currently anyone over the age of 12, according to government data

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin announced Tuesday night a series of restrictions to attempt to curb increasing infection rates, with 4,314 reported coronavirus cases a day, according to Reuters.

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The government is encouraging people to work from home, forcing bars and clubs to close at midnight, expanding use of antigen tests, and asking household contacts of confirmed cases to restrict their movement for five days, according to The Irish Times.

Martin said he has not ruled out imposing further restrictions if the virus doesn't show signs of slowing. "We’re taking this step by step," said Martin of the measures. 

Martin added, "I know that no one wants to go back to a world of widespread restrictions," according to CNN.

The chief clinical officer of the Health Service Executive of Ireland, Colm Henry, said in October that the number of people who are fully vaccinated in Ireland is "not high enough," according to a report by Independent.ie

At the time of that report, Ireland had the highest vaccine uptake in the European Union, at 92 percent of adults, but Henry said of the remaining 8 percent, "It’s a small percentage, but in absolute numbers that may translate to 40 or 50,000 people.”

"If they get sick over a short time period that will have an impact on the healthcare system going into the winter," Henry said at the time. 

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Adrian Cummins, the CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, said the "reintroduction of restrictions on hospitality shows that living with COVID is not viable for our country," according to CNN.

Ireland currently has protocols in place that allow only those who show proof of vaccination to dine at indoor restaurants and bars, according to The Irish Times.

Denis McCauley — chairman of the Irish Medical Organization General Practitioner Committee — said Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, has much higher rates of COVID-19 because it allows unvaccinated people into pubs and restaurants, according to the Times.