Today (October 19th) the Irish Government announced further guidelines on COVID19 restrictions. Speaking at the announcement, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the pandemic “isn’t over in Ireland. We have to get through another winter before we can safely say it’s behind us. We’re not where we hoped to be or expected to be for October 22. We are not past the Delta variant peak, we are most likely experiencing a twin peak,” he added.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin summarised the announcement in three requests –
“If you’re indoors, wear a mask.
“If you’re running an event indoors, ask for vaccination and enforce rules.
“And crucially if you have not yet been vaccinated or had your second vaccination, please make arrangements to be fully vaccinated. It is safe, free and the best way out of the pandemic.”
What Does this announcement mean?
The crux of todays announcement is a cautious approach towards the final phase of the COVID pandemic from the Government. Spiking case numbers of the Delta virus and a still sizeable number of the population unvaccinated has scuppered plans for more restrictions being lifted. This Friday will no longer mark the end of Covid rules amid fears over increasing case numbers and hospitalisations.
The Government have agreed plans to allow nightclubs return, but only under a new regime of strict protocols for revellers. These protocols are to be announced in more details before Friday 22nd.
COVID19 vaccine certificates are now expected to be part of nightclubs’ reopening, where venues will have to follow strict protocols.
Full capacity sports stadiums will be permitted from Friday under the plan – on the basis it is an outdoor activity.
Hospitality (pubs and restaurants)
Restrictions on hospitality are expected to remain in place until at least February next year – they agreed to follow Nphet’s advice on retaining the use of masks and covid digital certificates for indoor hospitality.
Ministers have agreed to lift restrictions on pub opening hours.
Table service only will continue to be a rule with a maximum of ten adults at a table. As of yet it is unclear whether table service only applies to nightclubs.
Return to office
The Government is expected to discourage a major return to offices next week. Instead it will continue to encourage office workers to return to the workplace in a phased basis.
The limits on the number of people who can attend weddings and other religious ceremonies will be lifted from Friday.
Over-60s will soon be able to avail of Covid-19 booster vaccine shots following advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac). The extension of boosters will be a core element of the Government’s plan to tackle the resurgence of COVID infections.
The HSE will begin to administer boosters to over-60s as soon as possible.
Antigen testing will be scaled-up as a response to the delay in lifting the final Covid-19 restrictions.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly suggest antigen tests may be given to people who are deemed closed contacts of people who tests positive for Covid.
For more information on COVID19 please visit the HSE website.