New nationwide COVID restrictions will be announced by the government this evening.

Cabinet Ministers are expected to sign off on a plan that will merge aspects of level four and five of the current roadmap.

Meetings continued through the day yesterday assessing what the impact of enhanced restrictions will be on the country.

Inside government buildings they have been calculating how many people are likely to lose their jobs because of measures that will see most non-essential retail close.

Details of a second ban on evictions to last the duration of these restrictions were also being worked on.

The government is unlikely to accept the NPHET recommendation of level five for six weeks - instead implementing a level four plus for three or four weeks.

But a review at the end of that time means in practice it could be longer.

The government is examining social bubbles that would allow people to visit close family, provide care or check in with lonely and vulnerable people.

It's likely pubs and restaurants will move to takeaway only with further travel restrictions also being considered.

Schools are expected to stay open with the importance of education being stressed this weekend along with needed supports for mental health and the risk of a further increase in domestic violence rates caused by another lockdown.

Ministers have also been discussing how to keep non-COVID healthcare functioning.

This morning a team of senior Ministers will meet again to finalise their opinion before presenting a plan to the full cabinet.

The full system of further restrictions will then be announced this evening.

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