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What we know so far about the Covid reopening plan for September and October

The Cabinet Covid-19 subcommittee met this afternoon to discuss reopening plans.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin speaking to media outside Government Buildings
Taoiseach Micheal Martin speaking to media outside Government Buildings
Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

A METAPHORICAL ‘TO be continued…’ sign has been placed on the door of Government Buildings this evening. 

We’d hoped, at this stage of the evening, to have a lot more detail about the plan for the next phase (the final phase?) of Covid reopening, after today’s meeting of the powerful Cabinet subcommittee on coronavirus. 

But that meeting broke up late this afternoon with many of the major decisions yet to be signed off. 

However, we got a few pointers on what to expect over the coming days as the sub-committee is expected to meet again on Monday. 

Speaking to reporters after today’s meeting, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the Government will continue with the easing of restrictions, citing Ireland’s high rates of vaccination.

Martin said health officials estimate that close to 90% of Irish people aged 16 and over will be vaccinated by 6 September.

“The vaccination programme has been an incredible success,” he said.

Health officials had recommended that the Government wait for that 90% target to be reached before contemplating any major easing of restrictions.

Martin said: “We are very close, in the next number of weeks, to reaching the optimal number we can reach in terms of vaccination.”

He encouraged anyone not already vaccinated to register for a vaccine.

“Government wants to reopen society, but we want to do it in a safe way. That is our key message and our key objective,” Martin said.

The Taoiseach said that discussions will continue before the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, with the sub-committee meeting again on Monday.

“We can certainly see a lifting of restrictions in some areas in terms of entertainment and theatre and the arts in September,” he told reporters.

He said that the timeline for the reopening of nightclubs would be “deliberated upon”.

Martin confirmed that the Government was looking at increasing the number of people able to attend outdoor events, but declined to give specific details of how such events would be managed.

He did indicate the Government is not considering introducing vaccination certificates for outdoor events – he said that Ireland’s high vaccine uptake rates meant that such documents will not be necessary.

Martin confirmed that by Tuesday the Government would have a plan and a roadmap ready for the coming months.

“I think September will be a significant month,” Martin predicted.

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What else can we expect? 

Climate and Transport Minister Eamon Ryan also gave an indication as to what can be expected from next week’s meetings. 

He said there is the potential for a return to 100% capacity public transport from next month, saying this “makes sense” with people returning to schools, colleges and workplaces.

He also added that a return to non-essential offices is needed but “on a phased basis” and using a hybrid model.

Confirmations and communions have the potential to recommence from September, also on a phased basis, the Minister said.

It’s also understood from today’s meeting that other indoor activities like bingo, bowling, indoor dance and fitness classes are also expected to return.

NPHET has told government that it is in favour of allowing more indoor activities, such as theatres shows, if vaccine passes are used.

The committee did discuss the use of vaccine passes for large outdoor events but there was little appetite for this idea as a change to legislation would be required.

With reporting by Christina Finn, Daragh Brophy and Press Association 

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