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NPHET to provide advice tomorrow to give government 'time to consider' easing restrictions

The team usually meets on a Friday but the CMO said the government will have a number of considerations to discuss.

Image: RollingNews.ie

THE NATIONAL PUBLIC Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is to meet a day earlier than planned so it can provide advice to government ahead of a decision on whether to begin easing Covid-19 restrictions from 18 May.

The team had been planning to meet Friday as usual, but today Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said they adjusted their time to give the government “time to consider and digest” the advice.

Cabinet will meet Friday to discuss the advice and decide the next steps.

It is expected that there will be some slight easing of restrictions from next Monday, which will mean people can meet a small number of people from another household in an outdoor setting.

Some workers like those in construction may also be able to return to work and the government has said it may be possible for garden centres and hardware stores to reopen.

The CMO has said he is ‘hopeful’ that NPHET will be in a position to advise some relaxation of restrictions tomorrow, but he said he will not be publicly sharing that advice until Friday after Cabinet has met.

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“I don’t propose to share that tomorrow evening because the process is that we’re making the advice available to Cabinet, based on our public health assessment. And I’ve said all along in relation to this, particularly as we move into easing restrictions there will be other considerations that the government has to have – economic considerations, social considerations, other flows of information, if I can put it that way, other than just public health advice – on which to base its decisions.

Government will have to come to balanced decisions according to its own discussions and considerations, which I won’t be privy to, we’re not privy to. We make the advice available, government will make the necessary decisions based on that and then any communications will result from that will happen after that, we won’t be doing any previews of our advice.

There has been concern about the turnaround time in the sample, test and trace process, but Dr Holohan said he does not anticipate that will prevent a move towards easing restrictions. He said there is ongoing work to improve this process and some of this will be completed by 18 May.

Public health officials are also expected to provide guidance on the use of face coverings at the end of this week. 

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