New coronavirus restrictions announced by the Government two days ago come into force tonight with an earlier closing time of midnight for bars, restaurants and nightclubs.

The Irish Hotels Federation said Government had confirmed that the new closing time restriction applies to hotel bars and all events being hosted, including weddings, whether guests are residents or not.

In a statement, it said: “Due to the current prevalence of the coronavirus in the community, we are hearing from our members that businesses are adopting a cautious approach in relation to hosting business events and meetings.”

The hotels federation said that public health remains its number one priority.

The Taoiseach last night told a meeting of his parliamentary party that the coming weeks will be uncertain and challenging.

Micheál Martin described the latest virus projections from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) as very worrying and he said the feedback from hospital intensive care units was concerning.

The number of patients with Covid-19 in hospitals today has increased by nine to 643. Of these, 118 people are in ICU with the virus.

Yesterday, NPHET said its research suggested that a minimum of 200,000 people could contract the virus in December.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said further surges in Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations were preventable.

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