Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that he hopes Ireland can get back to Level 3 restrictions with moderate restrictions for certain sectors by December 1.

Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, Martin said that the Irish Government's target was always to get to Level 3 by the time the six-week Level 5 lockdown period ended on Dec. 1.

At present, Level 3 restrictions allow outdoor dining and takeaway services only and also ban home visits except for essential purposes. 

However, Martin indicated that the Government could change some rules to allow indoor dining during the Christmas period depending on the number of cases, although there is growing concern that pubs that don't serve food may be forced to remain closed next month. 

The Irish Times reports that the Government will ask members of the public to limit their close contacts to family only over the Christmas period to limit the spread of the infection. 

However, Martin is additionally facing mounting pressure from within Fianna Fáil to move the country to Level 2 restrictions on Dec. 1 with cases falling significantly in Ireland since Level 5 restrictions were introduced at the end of October. 

Level 2 restrictions would allow indoor seating in bars and restaurants and reopen museums, cinemas and galleries, whilst also allowing people to travel outside their own county. 

A maximum of six visitors from up to three different households would also be permitted in an individual home. 

Both Level 2 and Level 3 restrictions would allow non-essential retailers to reopen in the lead-up to Christmas. 

Religious services would remain online under Level 3 guidelines but would be allowed to open for up to 50 worshippers under Level 2 restrictions. 

The National Public Health Emergency Team is expected to meet today to discuss Ireland's progress since moving to Level 5 restrictions with Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan stating on Wednesday that the situation in Ireland was improving.

Holohan, who announced 362 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, urged people to "redouble their efforts" in the fight against COVID-19. 

"I urge everyone to redouble their efforts, try and have fewer close contacts this week than you did last week, continue to social distance and follow the other vitally important public health guidelines," he said. 

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