Coronavirus: Highest level restrictions recommended in Republic of Ireland

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image captionGardaí (Irish police) have been helping to enforce stricter rules in County Donegal in recent weeks

The highest level of coronavirus restrictions should be introduced across the Republic of Ireland, public health experts have said.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) made the recommendation to the government on Sunday night.

Level Five restrictions would see all indoor gatherings banned and bars and restaurants only able to operate takeaway services.

Politicians are expected to meet the chief medical officer on Monday.

The measures would be in place for four weeks.

A length NPHET meeting took place earlier on Sunday to discuss the rise in Covid-19 cases in the county, RTÉ reported.

Any move to new restrictions would have to be considered by the Covid-19 oversight group, the cabinet sub-committee and the full cabinet which is currently scheduled to meet on Tuesday.

There were 364 new Covid-19 cases recorded on Sunday, with no additional deaths reported.

Other level five restrictions include weddings being limited to six people and no sports fixtures being held, as well as prohibiting visits to other people's homes.

Counties Donegal and Dublin are currently under level three restrictions, with all other counties subject to level two.

The leaders of the three governing parties are expected to meet Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan on Monday.

There has now been a total of 38,032 confirmed cases in Ireland, and 1,810 deaths.

'Shock and surprise in government'

By Shane Harrison, BBC News NI Dublin correspondent

Most of the Republic of Ireland is at Level 2 of its restrictions against the spread of Covid-19, with two counties, Donegal and Dublin, at Level 3.

So Sunday night's recommendations by public health officials to move the entire state to Level 5 for up to four weeks shocked and surprised many in government, even though there has been a significant increase in the number of new coronavirus cases.

Level 5 is close to the lockdown measures implemented in March and April of this year, but schools would remain open.

The recommendation, to come into effect, would need to be ratified by the cabinet after it has been vetted by senior civil servants and a cabinet sub-committee.

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