All travellers flying into Ireland will soon be required to produce a negative Covid-19 test on arrival.
he new rules will require anyone flying into Ireland to produce a negative PCR test result received within three days before arrival.
The move comes against a backdrop of increasing coronavirus cases in Ireland.
The ban on flights and passenger ferries from Britain and South Africa will also be extended until midnight on Friday.
From Saturday anyone travelling to Ireland from Britain or South Africa will be required to produce a negative laboratory test received within three days before travel.
They will also be required to restrict their movements for 14 days on arrival.
A date has not been yet set for when all travellers flying into Ireland will be required to produce negative test results on arrival.
Meanwhile, only essential construction projects and refurbishments are to be permitted until the end of the month under new coronavirus restrictions to be discussed by Cabinet.
Around 50,000 construction workers will have to down tools for the month under the Government’s new restrictions.
The majority of private construction developments are to be halted until the end to the month as part of a plan to stop the rapid spread of Covid-19.
However, essential construction developments such as social housing or schools projects will permitted.
Shops will also be told to stop offering click and collect services and will instead be asked to offer only click and delivery.
The Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 agreed the measure while also signing off on closing secondary and primary schools until the end of the month.
However, the Cabinet will discuss ways to ensure students who attend special schools are not disadvantaged by the new lockdown restrictions.
Measures are also being examined to ensure Leaving Cert students are not negatively impacted.
Education Minister Norma Foley is examining how to allow Leaving Cert students attend classes during the lockdown
It comes as another 5,325 new cases of Covid-19 and 17 further deaths of people who contracted the virus confirmed by the Department of Health this evening.
This brings the total number of cases in the State to 113,322 while the number of people who have died with the virus in Ireland has risen to 2,282.
A variant of the coronavirus originating in England has been found in 25pc of recent positive cases in Ireland, the Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 has been told.
The new variant, which emerged in England before Christmas, resulted in the Government banning all flights from Britain.
There have been a further 1,931 new cases confirmed in Dublin, 767 in Cork, 323 in Kildare, 322 in Limerick, 238 in Donegal and the remaining 1,744 cases are spread across all other counties.
As of 2pm today, there were 840 Covid-19 patients hospitalised, of which 76 are in ICU.
102 people have been hospitalised in the past 24 hours with Covid-19.
Of the cases notified today, 2,550 are men and 2,769 are women while 63pc are under 45 years of age and the median age is 36 years old.
Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said; “We are now experiencing a considerable surge in cases and hospitalisations. We can turn this around quickly if we stick to the measures we know worked last spring.
Dr Holohan said there has been some early progress in fighting the latest wave as “the average number of contacts per case has been dropping in recent days”. The CMO warned this progress needed to be continued “to limit as much as we can our contact with other people in the days and weeks ahead”.
“If we all stay home and keep to the public health advice, we can bring Covid-19 back under control – which ultimately will protect our essential services such as Health and Education and most importantly save lives.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin also said the new variant is one of the reasons the Government was forced re-impose restrictions during the Christmas period.
However, the chair of Nphet’s Expert Advisory Group Dr Cillian de Gascun contradicted the Taoiseach’s claim.
On Twitter, Dr de Gascun said the variant is “not responsible for the recent significant and concerning increase” in new Covid cases in Ireland.
He said the variant was only in 10pc of samples tested. Dr de Gascun noted his conclusion was from a small sample of 160 cases.
However, he was criticised by the President of the Royal College of Physicians Ireland Mary Horgan who said the sample side was too small to make a conclusion.
At today’s Cabinet committee meeting party leaders and ministers were told the latest figures show 25pc of new cases are a results of the variant.
The committee are meeting today to assess the deterioration of the profile of the virus as case numbers, hospitalisations and ICU admissions continue to surge. Dr Tony Holohan yesterday predicted that mortality will also be “significantly impacted” by the continued spread of the virus.
It is under consideration by cabinet that schools may be asked to remain closed until the end of January, with the exception of special education schools, to stem the movement of people.
The five 5km travel limit is expected to remain in place after Wednesday.
An announcement on schools and possible further closures is expected tomorrow.
Elsewhere, Northern Ireland’s Department of Health confirmed another 18 deaths and 1,378 cases today.